Flinders University student Sisaleo Philavong is one of the faces of a public awareness campaign for South Australia’s Adult Safeguarding Unit (ASU).
Sisaleo is studying a Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education and works as a Project Officer at the Multicultural Communities Council of South Australia (MCCSA).
“I wanted to support people with disabilities in their inclusion and empowerment in communities and raise awareness of health professionals to the issues and challenges we face as people with disabilities,” says Sisaleo. “It is also to educate and advocate about abuse, communication and fostering relationships in employment, government, and life.
“I am learning about different disabilities and strategies to support people with a disability on an individual and community basis. I am learning about the support structures and challenges in transitioning to adulthood, direct instruction, and the practical learning. The thing I love about Flinders is that it is the only university I know of that has such a course.”
The ASU, which is part of the Office for Ageing Well, SA Health, opened in October 2019, and works to uphold the rights of adults at risk of abuse. It was originally tasked with responding to concerns of abuse of people aged 65 years and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 and over. However, in October 2020, the Unit’s responsibility was widened to include adults living with disability, who may be vulnerable to abuse.
This year, Office for Ageing Well and Think Human asked community members, including older people and people living with disability, what types of campaign images and messaging would resonate with them and encourage them to engage with the ASU.
They said they would like to see a diversity of ‘real people’ evoking feelings that ‘this could be someone I know’ coupled with positive targeted messages, building on the fact older people and people living with disability have a greater capacity to navigate their lives, than they’re often given credit for.
“I wanted to represent the diversity of people with disabilities amongst the community and for people in South Australia to see someone within their community that can spark conversations about the campaign,” says Sisaleo.
Office for Ageing Well acted on the feedback, bringing in photographer Claudio Raschella, for a series of photo shoots around Adelaide.
Sisaleo was pictured at the Flinders University Library and in front of the colourful outdoor mural.
“I think it’s important to highlight people with diverse backgrounds because it allows people to connect and think about people they see in their own communities and to have people from their own communities in the imagery shows that it isn’t just relating to one particular group in the community but affects everyone. I also think it supports community inclusion and by having real people they see people with various disabilities.”
The images debuted in a three-week digital and social media campaign throughout October and will be used for future digital and hard copy communications.
Sisaleo says he’s proud of the result. “I feel excited and honoured to be a part of the photos, being an advocate, a part of the LGA advisory group and future DE (Developmental Educator). I hope it gets people to think about abuse and the people in their community, to question and to advocate for the people that cannot. It’s important that people understand abuse isn’t just about the physical and emotional abuse that we see, it is about abuse from all aspects from communication, the policies we create, and accessibility and inclusion. We need to raise our voices to create solutions to support people.”
Office for Ageing Well in the Department for Health and Wellbeing supports South Australians to age well through the Seniors Card Program, Retirement Villages Unit, Aged Care Strategy Unit, Adult Safeguarding Unit, State Ageing Policy, and Community Grants. Office for Ageing Well includes the voices of South Australia’s older people as it works to safeguard their rights, create age friendly communities, challenge ageism and respect diversity.