2022 IDPwD Ambassadors
These videos feature our 2022 Ambassadors sharing their stories, lived experiences and messages for International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD).
Meet our IDPwD 2022 Ambassadors
Uncle Wilfred Prince: I became an ambassador because I wanted to be part of a group of people that will educate and teach people out there about what is disability, what people with disabilities can achieve and do in the community, as well as being a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities.
Akii Ngo: It was important for me to agree to be an ambassador because I felt that it was a really great opportunity to show the community and the world that someone like me exists.
Nathan Basha: By becoming an ambassador, I’m able to speak up for a lot of people who, in history, have been segregated from society. I’m trying to stop that.
Eliza Hull: I feel like International Day of People with Disability is a way to amplify the voices of people with disability, to create more change, to disrupt stereotypes, and ultimately to celebrate our achievements.
Chloe Hayden: To now have International Day of People with Disability and young people, and just humans in general, to be able to see representation of all aspects is so important. And hopefully that does mean that there is some, you know, 13-year-old girl out there who goes, ‘Okay, well if she’s supposed to exist, so am I.’
Julie Jones: People assume that he doesn’t have anything to say or doesn’t have good receptive language but, he understands well and he wants to communicate.
Braeden Jones: When we go places, it’s good. I like doing different things. I like being out and about and it’s good meeting new people.
Julie: He just communicates differently. He remembers people, he makes them feel welcome. I guess, he treats people like he would really like to be treated himself.
Nathan: By having a day for people with disability, you’re allowing them to actually feel valued, to feel respected, to embrace who they are.
Uncle Wilfred: It’s very important that we do this because it’s the one day of the year that we are able to get out there to showcase our abilities, not our disabilities.
Akii: Look beyond just our disability and recognise that we, just like all of us, deserve to live a fulfilling happy life without discrimination, without ableism.
Julie: We just need the community to step up and to take away some of the barriers. If we look at it as not just looking after people with disability, but the whole community, I think that’s what we really need to do.
Uncle Wilfred: It’s about being accepted and to be embraced by the community as a whole.
Chloe: We don’t have to be afraid of the word disabled or start calling it differently abled. I’m disabled and I’m okay with being disabled.
Akii: We can contribute just as much as anyone else, if not more.
Nathan: A person with disability is no different than anyone else in this world.
Eliza: The world is full of diversity and that’s, in my opinion, what makes the world wonderful. I feel proud to be part of a diverse group.
Uncle Wilfred: I would like a fully inclusive, wholehearted community, everybody together, enjoying themselves.
Chloe: International Day…
Nathan: …of People with…
Credit: Come Over To My House – Text copyright © Eliza Hull & Sally Rippin 2022. Illustration copyright © Daniel Gray-Barnett 2022. Published by Bright Light, an imprint of Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing
My name is Eliza Hull and I’m a musician and a writer and a disability advocate and a mother of two. I have a seven-year-old and a two-year-old.
When I was five years old, I started falling over at school and there were a lot of hospital visits, and a lot of people talking about me and not to me.
And I had a lot of surgery, operations, and so throughout school I was a wheelchair user.
It just so happened that when I was five and developed my disability, I also realised that I could sing.
I used to escape in the heat of summer and go into the piano room and just play and express myself.
I guess it enabled me to unpack all the things that I was feeling.
The biggest barriers that I’ve faced, it actually is in music industry, but also when I was deciding to become a parent.
When I went to my neurologist and said that I wanted to start a family, I was really excited.
I remember that moment where he looked at me and said that he didn’t think that I should become a parent was when I really realised that it was time to break down these assumptions about what it means to be a disabled parent.
I remember when my daughter was, I think she was only about two years old, and she said to me, ‘Mum, why do you walk like a penguin?’
And we had a laugh.
I think, for young children, what better time to start by then having these conversations about disability and also authentically representing various families with disability.
I had the idea of Come over to my house and I went to my very good friend Sally Rippin, who’s a great children’s author.
I came to her with the idea and wanted to represent various families.
So, there are families that are deaf, a family that has a mother that is blind.
Ultimately, it shows that these families are incredible problem solvers, great creative thinkers and have a lot of fun.
I think people with disability are still greatly underrepresented in the media, in the music industry, in the arts world and, for me, I feel like International Day of People with Disability is a way to amplify the voices of people with disability, to create more change, to disrupt stereotypes about people with disability, and ultimately to celebrate our achievements.
Uncle Wilfred Prince
Hi, my name is Willie Prince, and I’m a proud Kalkadoon man from Mount Isa in Queensland.
We’re fighters. We don’t back down; we strive for what we want and we try for it.
And that’s who I am; you know, a fighter, an advocate.
There was a need for a voice out there for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities, and there’s not many out there in our community that are leaders.
It’s people like myself that get up there and have a go, and we’re out there educating and showing them that we are equals.
I got into sport by accident, actually.
It was through a friend of mine that introduced me to it.
They took me along to watch them play wheelchair sport and I got rather interested in it and said to myself, ‘There’s not many Aboriginal people with disabilities playing sport.’
And I said to myself, ‘Why don’t I give it a go, you know, and break down the barriers?’
I went on to represent Queensland 11 times in wheelchair sport, twice overseas.
I’m really proud of what I did and what I achieved.
It really showed the way forward for other Aboriginal people with disabilities who want to be involved in sport.
I think, International Day for People with Disabilities, it’s very important that we do this because it’s the one day of the year that we are able to get out there to showcase our abilities, not our disabilities.
It’s about being accepted and to be embraced by the community as a whole.
When you look at myself, I have a double disadvantage.
I’m Aboriginal, and I have a disability.
My Aboriginality is more me, not my disability.
So, when I introduce myself to people, I am a proud Indigenous man with a disability, not, ‘a man with a disability and I’m Aboriginal’.
I am a proud Aboriginal man with a disability.
I would like to see people in the community aware that we are here, that we are able to educate them.
I would like a fully inclusive, wholehearted community, everybody together, enjoying themselves.
Braeden and Julie Jones
I’m Julie and this is my son Braeden.
When Braeden was first diagnosed with a disability, I knew my husband and I had boundless love for him and there was no question that he would be given every opportunity and we would do everything to ensure that he had a good life.
We won a trip to Disneyland, back in 2011, and we had this most amazing holiday.
And I felt so liberated that despite a wheelchair, despite all Braeden’s needs, we researched it, planned it, and it just went so brilliantly.
And watching our family share those experiences really made me want to show other people what was possible.
We started the blog, really, to show people what we were doing in the hope that it would help them do it as well.
Braeden’s life is full of adventures every single day, whether we’re travelling or whether we’re at home.
Director: How does travel make you feel Braeden?
Braeden: I think travel is exciting and it makes me happy. When we go places, it’s good. I like doing different things.
This is me at Jervis Bay in my beach wheelchair.
I like being out and about and it’s good meeting new people.
Julie: The wheelchair opens up lots of conversations with Braeden because people just start by saying, ‘Wow, that’s a really cool chair’.
Or a kid will be looking at the chair and the parent will say, ‘They’re really cool wheels, aren’t they?’
And so, it’s a really positive way of engaging people with Braeden and giving them something to chat about straight away.
I just think we need more representation of people with disability and I think if a day brings about that opportunity for us to open conversations like the one we’re having now and share experiences, I think that’s really important.
And we’re really proud to be ambassadors and I think it’s important that people who are a non-verbal are represented in some way.
Braeden being non-verbal is something of a myth that I would particularly like to bust.
People assume that he doesn’t have anything to say or doesn’t have good receptive language but, he understands well and he wants to communicate.
Braeden: When I travel with Mum, I have fun and I’m happy.
This is us at Disneyland in California.
It was exciting going to the snow in New Zealand with my sister, Amelia.
Julie: So, he just communicates differently. Whether that’s using his iPad to tell his news from the day, whether he uses photos or whether he uses picture communication to actually make choices.
But he’s really definite, and certainly if anyone gives him the opportunity to engage, he wants to do so.
My name is Nathan Basha.
I’m an office assistant.
Other than that, I am an ambassador for Bus Stop Films and I am also a motivational speaker.
Growing up, I was a born bookworm. So, I used to love reading books.
Because of that I was able to enter film with a very unique mindset.
I saw film being like the visual aspect of a book.
Because of that I got into film and I never left since.
I have a still enlarging collection of DVDs, ’cause I’m a bit of an old school man myself.
I don’t believe in streaming or any of that.
By having a day for people with disability, you’re allowing them to actually feel valued, to feel special, to know they can be honoured by having a day for them to embrace who they are.
I have always strongly and firmly believed in helping people.
By becoming an ambassador, I am able to do that and much more.
I’m able to speak up for a lot of people who, in history, have been segregated from society. I’m trying to stop that.
I’m trying to bring people with disability back into the forefront and helping by giving them a voice.
Inclusion and creating a world with us, having people from all walks of life in it.
We are people, it doesn’t matter, if you have a disability or not.
That’s why they need to have employment.
It doesn’t just make good business sense, but it also makes for a better world if you can include and not exclude, not segregate.
All that, moving forward, it’s all about equality.
My name is Chloe Hayden, I am 25 years old, and I’m an author, an actor and a disability advocate.
I had teachers and doctors and psychologists tell me and my parents that I’m not able to achieve things because I’m autistic.
I’m doing everything I’m doing because I’m autistic.
I am able to have the life I do and do the things I do because I’m a neurodivergent human and my brain works in ways that are wonderful and creative and brilliantly weird.
No neurotypical could do what I do!
And I can’t drive a car and I can’t eat red food and I can’t do basic math, but I can also do things, and have already achieved things, that people twice my age would never be able to do.
We don’t have to be afraid of the word disabled or, you know, start calling it differently abled.
I’m disabled and I’m okay with being disabled.
It’s not a bad thing and being disabled can be a beautiful, wonderful, incredible thing.
Just because I’m autistic doesn’t mean I like trains. [Laughs]
That’s a lie because, I’ve always been like, ‘I’m autistic and I don’t like trains so I’m not like the stereotype.’
And then my special interest is the Titanic. Like, I’m obsessed with it.
And someone was like, ‘Babe, that’s literally a sea train.’
And I was like, ‘Damn it!’
The power of social media has been instrumental in changing both the way that people view disabilities and the way that disabled people are actually able to have a voice.
We’ve been left out of traditional media for our entire lives.
Now, when the ball’s in our court and we’re able to be the ones that share our stories, it entirely changes the way that the world views it.
Reaching people that may otherwise have never heard about certain disabilities or had access to learning about certain disabilities, and just had access to unlearning and relearning what disabled people are like and what our experiences are.
It’s massive. Social media has a massive impact on the way that we view things.
If I saw one person that was like me in the media, I wouldn’t have thought that I wasn’t supposed to be here.
You know, I just needed one person that I could look to and go, ‘Oh, okay, I get it now.’
And a lot of disabled people growing up didn’t have that.
So, to now have International Day of People with Disability and young people, and just humans in general, to be able to see representation of all aspects is so important. And hopefully that does mean that there is some, you know, 13-year-old girl out there who goes, ‘Okay, well if she’s supposed to exist, so am I.’
Hi, I’m Akii, I am a disability activist and advocate.
I work primarily within the accessibility and inclusion space.
I also model, I worked with SG, they did a campaign.
It was just me front and centre with my wheelchair in all of these windows in this mainstream store.
They weren’t trying to hide my chair, they weren’t trying to hide any aspect of me.
People messaged me and they said that was the first time they’d ever seen anyone that looked like them represented.
I wanted to be the change in the world that I didn’t have growing up and I wanted to be the representation that I never saw and I never experienced.
And I think being able to put myself in a position to create representation and provide hope to the next generation is a really important thing.
As a disabled young person from a refugee background who’s trans, non-binary, feminine presenting and chronically ill.
So, I have so many different intersections and parts of my identity that were just never represented.
It was important for me to agree to be an ambassador because I felt that it was a really great opportunity to show the community and the world that someone like me exists.
So, being able to be that representation was an opportunity that I couldn’t decline.
The recognition of looking beyond is highlighting that disability is unique.
Humans are unique, and having a disability is just one aspect of who we are and we have so much that we can offer and provide.
And if we are included in the conversation, if we are included as a part of the workplace and we are supported and valued in every aspect of our community, then we can contribute just as much as anyone else, if not more.
What I want the community to know and change is awareness but also open-mindedness and understanding that disability is not one size fits all and that people’s experiences of disability are different.
Even the same disability has different experiences.
I would love to have opportunities for disabled people improve.
I would love for our experiences to matter, and that people recognise us and look beyond just our disability and recognise that we, just like all of us, deserve to live a fulfilling happy life without discrimination, without ableism, and feel supported, valued and live the life we all deserve to live, however we want to live it.