Sereako Treloggen isn’t your average 27-year-old. He was the first Torres Strait Islander with disability to be invited to Parliament House at 18 years of age, and was a finalist in the Disability Rights Young Leadership category at the 2009 National Disability Awards.
He currently sits on the board of the First Peoples Disability Network and is studying at university, with ambitions to work in government before turning his eye to politics to try and improve the lives of people with disability, particularly First Peoples with disability.
Sereako was born with Cerebral Palsy, a physical disability that can affect muscle control, coordination, body movement, reflex, posture and balance.
Because of his disability, Sereako’s biological family couldn’t look after him, so his great-grandparents found a couple in Cairns who could care for him. When he was nine years old, he left Thursday Island to live with his adopted parents, Gloria and John.
“My mum was a teacher’s aid for special needs kids, and she took me everywhere,” Sereako said.
Sometimes people without disability feel awkward, or unsure, about how to act around people with disability. Sereako says that people with disability just need to be treated like everyone else.
This was one of the things Sereako says he appreciates most about his childhood and upbringing, that his parents didn’t do anything differently because of his disability. The same applied when he went to High School, which he says was a really good experience.
“I went to football training, and sometimes the team was amazed at what I could do and that gave me more motivation.” Sereako said.
“That was really important to me because everyone is different in their own way; you’ve got to find what you’re able to do. I tried everything and it really opened people’s eyes.
International Day of People with Disability means a lot to Sereako, because it’s a day to celebrate people with disability, to listen to their voices and bring them together.
“To me International Day of People with Disability is about recognising different disabilities and breaking down barriers, about meeting different people with disability around the country and bringing them together, giving them a voice. It’s about understanding that everyone is different and has their own identity.”