I recently had the privilege of meeting FUSA’s new Disabilities Officer. I would like to welcome Anu to the role and please read below for more information about Anu and how to get involved in what’s happening.
Who are you?
My name is Anu Francis and I have recently been elected as the FUSA Disabilities Officer for the second half of 2019. I am currently in my second year of a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) / Bachelor of Education (Special Education), after graduating a Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Bioscience) in 2017. Outside of uni, I spend the majority of my time training, as I currently represent South Australia in Para-Rowing and Australia in Para-Badminton. My disabilities are Cerebral Palsy, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and Auditory Processing Disorder.
What attracted you to this role?
My disabilities have certainly caused me some additional challenges during my time at university, and whilst I have received some great support from the Flinders Health, Counselling and Disability Services, I have seen little student-led action and support for students with disabilities. Therefore, I thought that with my lived experience of disability, along with my knowledge and experience with a wide variety of disabilities from my Special Education studies and work with Julia Farr Association Purple Orange, I could make some positive and long-lasting change in this area.
What ideas do you have for projects and events?
A key focus of mine is to create more opportunities for students with disabilities to get to know each other. Not only will this tackle loneliness within the Flinders disability community, it will also enable collaboration on a variety of projects and events that directly help and appeal to this community. Some ideas I have for this is a series of small-scale social events such as lunches and movie nights, as well as regular Disabilities Collective meetings and information/practical sessions covering topics including employment, rights, and employment. I would also like to raise awareness and acceptance of disabilities within the wider Flinders community, through events including a celebration of the International Day of People with Disability on December 3rd, and regular disability-related contributions to the Empire Times (you can read my recent article that discusses how I navigate sex, love and beauty with a disability here.
Another important project idea I have is to establish a fully accessible Disabilities Space in the Hub, similar to the Women’s and Queer Spaces, where students with disabilities can socialise, relax, use kitchen facilities, administer medications, and study using a range of assistive technologies to suit their needs. Of course, there is also an ongoing need to improve overall physical accessibility, with current issues reported by students including insufficient signage of lifts throughout the university, some accessible toilets being largely inaccessible for some students who use wheelchairs, and unmarked stairs proving a tripping hazards for students with visual impairments.
How can students get involved with the Disabilities Collective?
The Disabilities Collective is a group of students who are interested in accessibility and disability. I am hoping to hold regular meetings beginning in August, where we can discuss current issues for students with disabilities at Flinders and establish and enact solutions in the form of projects and events.
Students can register to become a member of the Collective by following this link: http://fusa.edu.au/collectives/
We also have a Facebook page called ‘FUSA Disabilities Collective’ , which will shortly be updated to keep you up to date with important events such as Collective meetings, and other events and projects.
What do you want to know from students who are studying with a disability?
Whilst I have my own experiences of being a Flinders student with a disability, as Disabilities Officer it is my role to represent all students with a disability at Flinders University. Therefore, I want to hear from you! Feel free to email me with any issues or concerns you are facing at uni, questions about my role or what services are available to you at Flinders, ideas for disability-related events and projects, or just to introduce yourself!
How can you be contacted?
My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org