Speak out Advocacy Conference

IHC Self Advocacy Advisor David Corner reports on the recent Speak out Advocacy Conference in Launceston, Tasmania.

I was invited by Speak out Advocacy to attend their conference in Launceston Tasmania as a keynote speaker as part of my role with Inclusion International and IHC.

The theme of the conference was “Right time Right now”.

Speak out advocacy is part of Inclusion Australia. Along with different Self advocacy groups in each state, they advocate for the rights of people with intellectual disability to speak up and be heard.

The conference was held on the 14th and 15th of September. I did a key note speech talking about my life and schooling and about IHC and the Self Advocacy Team, DPA, Inclusion International, People First, Empower Us and some of the other international work that I have been involved with. I also talked on how important it is to support, encourage and mentor other people with intellectual disabilities and how, the younger generation are now speaking up for themselves and self advocacy is also coming more naturally to them. It seems there are fewer barriers in their lives, than in previous generations.

I spoke about Inclusion’s ‘Calls to Action’ that were launched at the Global Self Advocacy Summit in Birmingham earlier this year. People are demanding that things need to happen, as they feel that they have been saying the same things for a long time, but no action has been taken.

I was impressed with Miranda Bruyniks who is the National Disability Insurance scheme Complaints Commissioner. She had a ‘Quality and Safeguarding’ session with self advocates and talked about the importance of explaining things in a way that people with an intellectual disability could understand and relate to. She also talked about how staff would help and support people to sort out any problems that they may have, relative to things that are not directly related to their services.

I was impressed with the presentation by parents with intellectual disabilities, who have children and who are community educators with ‘The main stream and me’ programme, through the ‘information linkages and capacity project’ funded by the National Disability Insurance scheme. They run workshops, develop resources and help main stream services to understand about people with intellectual disabilities. They look at when they use their services, as well as working together to develop resources as equal partners. They talked about a really important key message being ‘support before report’.

I was part of a panel talking about the Calls to Action. We saw the video that Inclusion International had made for the global self advocacy summit, where people talked about how these actions are really important and can have an effect on their lives.

Judy Huett and Heather Forsyth, who are part of the ‘Empower Us ‘Action team and myself ran an ‘Empower us’ session on What is Good support, with role plays on ‘ what is not good support.

The audience came up with lots of ideas and suggestions after each role play, on how things could be done better and gave ideas on what is good support.

I went to a session on ‘Employment’ and saw a good video and heard some really positive stories about employment and people with intellectual disabilities.

Over all I found the conference really inspiring with the different sessions and people involved in them as presenters and co presenters.

It was great to see that the National Disability Insurance scheme has made a difference to people’s lives and to know that Self-advocacy is making a difference!