2021 IDPwD Ambassadors
These videos feature our 2021 IDPwD Ambassadors and Australian of the Year Alumni sharing their stories for IDPwD. The videos were produced in partnership with the National Australia Day Council as part of our 2021 sponsorship of the Australian of the Year Awards.
I think it’s important we celebrate International Day of People with Disability because for every person I’ve met that’s living with a disability there’s an incredible story.
The reason International Day of People with Disability is important, is because it reminds us to create equitable platforms for all aspects of life in our society.
It does inspire people to want to get up and make a difference.
Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM, 2021 IDPwD Ambassador
I’m often at work and sometimes I just stop in the middle of the emergency department floor and I think about how lucky I am to be there. I just feel so glad to be able to do what I love.
For me to become a doctor after having a spinal cord injury had a whole heap of challenges.
The big barriers were things like coming through medical school, getting my first job, overcoming those things.
I think apart from these tangible benefits like innovation, profits and wellness, inclusion just creates a feel where you are a family and I think that’s really special.
The single biggest thing that we need to change in society are attitudes. We need to stop thinking about the barriers and we need to stop thinking about the disabilities and start focusing on abilities and strengths, normalising some of these conversations and showing what lives are like and showing that its normal and I think through those things, attitudes are slowly starting to change.
The reason International Day of People with Disability is important is because such a large segment of our society identify with having a disability. It reminds us to create equitable platforms for all aspects of life in our society.
Nathan Parker, 2021 IDPwD Ambassador
So ever since the age of six, I only ever had the one goal and that was to become a fighter pilot in the Air Force.
Even today, to be able to come to work and do what I love to do and share that passion with others is one of the most empowering experiences for me, regardless of my ability and my differences, to be able to help other people achieve their goals and to share my passion for flying with them is one of the most incredible things I’ve considered myself fortunate to do.
On the pathway to that dream when the accident happened, that basically sent me back to square one, lying in a hospital bed, wondering if I’d ever fly again. Wondering if all that hard work I’d put in from that young age had all gone to waste.
Sometimes it came down to just trying to move that little bit better and then building up day by day. But certainly I think believing that I could and having that goal and that dream of returning to the air and return to flying really spurred me on, especially when times got really tough.
Initially after the accident, there was a lot of fears in my mind as to how I was going to fit back into my environment? How was I going to get along with my mates? Would I be treated differently? Would I be able to do the things I always wanted to do?
I learned to fly with an aero club here in Lismore. I was very lucky to have a seamless journey of people giving me opportunities to try different things. And I’m now very lucky to basically go about my day-to-day life as if I’m just another person. I felt really included, never felt really different or even disabled at all, just due to support and the open-mindedness of those around me I think.
One of the most powerful things they did was sit me in the aeroplane and basically said “Either you can or you can’t, let’s see what happens.”
Throughout my entire experience it’s often been, not necessarily guarantees that I can do things, but at least having the opportunity to try has been one of the most powerful things anybody’s ever afforded me. I wasn’t really all that different, people just accepted me and no one really questioned who I was or what I could do.
William and Daniel Clarke, 2021 IDPwD Ambassadors
We just had a passion to save the orangutans and we had no idea how that would come about.
It was our parents that helped us to find out how we could channel our energy into what we wanted to do and they’ve just supported us on every single step of the way.
My name is William, he’s Daniel…
He always hugs me and…
He doesn’t like it!
A lot of people didn’t take us seriously, they thought, “Oh, they’ll never be successful.” or “They’re just children that will grow out of that phase”.
As the years went on, people started seeing our work, including us in conversations and debates around orangutans and the environment and people started seeing we did have something to say and when we include everyone, you get all these different ideas that you may not have thought of, and those idea may be the idea that solves a lot of the problems of today.
Having Daniel’s cerebral palsy in my perspective of the world has truly shaped who I am now today and has made me aware of so many other things in our world that I don’t think I would have otherwise been aware of. So both as, as a team and along our quest for the orangutans, I don’t think we would be where we are today, if not for Daniel and who he is as part of his disability making who he is as well.
And that story of me having cerebral palsy but also being able to follow your passion, despite having a disability is so important. And while I don’t see myself as anything different to anyone else it does inspire people to want to get up and make a difference.