Dr. Scott Avery

Wiyabu, which is hello in my native language of Gathang. I’m Dr Scott Avery.

I’m very proud and humbled to be an ambassador for International Day of People with Disability 2023.

I’m a Worimi man, which is in New South Wales. I’m also deaf, so I have to say I’m proud times two. Proud of my Worimi heritage, but also proud of being a deaf person.

I’ve got a lovely wife, with two daughters.

I teach both Indigenous studies and Indigenous disability at universities across Australia.

We’re very proud of the publication Culture is Inclusion. The artwork is by an Aboriginal artist with disability, who’s named Uncle Paul Calcott. A yindyamarra, and it actually tells the story of disability.

So this came from me going out to the First Nations disability community and asking people, tell us your story. And I think this is very much an untold story in Australia. People are discovering it, not just for the book it is, but for the stories that are in it.

When the invitation to be an ambassador of International Day of People with Disability is actually quite humbling and I think the best way for me to talk about inclusion, I need to actually send your minds back 25,000 years.

Out in Lake Mungo in Western New South Wales, there’s these footprints in the clay. And amongst those footprints is this single right line of footprints. And the archaeologists went, what’s going on here? So they asked the Aboriginal Elders and they said, that’s a one-legged man on a hunt.

And they’re with community. They’re participating in community life.

And this idea of, look we take all comers, this is what inclusion means and this is how the world means it to be.

There have been times where I have really struggled with it and it’s this idea of you “suffer”. I don’t suffer hearing loss. It’s my natural world. I’m OK with it.

I know in some parts of the education system, there would be a 14-year-old Aboriginal child who’s being told, you can’t cut it. And I’m going — they’re wrong. They’re wrong. You can.

Auslan version

Audio Described version

Dr Scott Avery is an Aboriginal scholar from the Worimi people who is profoundly deaf. He is a Professor and experienced researcher and advocate.

Dr Scott Avery is passionate about sharing the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. In 2018, he published ‘Culture is Inclusion: A narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability’ (2018) based on his research.

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