Self-advocacy, peer networks and accessible information provision: how they have shaped our lives

Our Voice SA Self Advocates & South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability Inclusion Workers 
Ian Cummins1, Tiffany Littler1
Elizabeth Crawford1, Gavin Burner1,2, Chris Bergin2, Sarah Byrne2Rebeka Touzea2

1Our Voice SA, 2South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability

Presentation:
Self-advocacy is a powerful tool for improving the lives of people living with intellectual disability. The members of Our Voice SA and SACID will share personal testimonials of how self-advocacy, peer networks and having access to information that is easy to understand has shaped their lives. This presentation demonstrates the benefits of knowing your rights, having peer networks and self-advocacy.


Biography:

Ian was born in Peterborough but grew up in Adelaide, living in MINDA from the age of 16. Ian has been self-advocating for over 15 years and it has developed into a passion. Ian’s first experience of self-advocacy was when he was living at MINDA, Ian self-advocated to move out of institutionalized housing.

Tiffany is 30 years old and a proud self-advocate. She has been self-advocating for over 10 years. Tiffany’s first experience of self-advocacy was when she was looking to move out of her parents’ home and spoke to Disability SA about what she wanted in her own home.

Libby grew up in an era when children with special needs attended special schools. She lived and attended school at Regency Park Crippled Children’s. Libby found her calling last year when she joined Our Voice SA. She is loving being involved in the self-advocacy movement and enjoying providing mentoring to others.

Gavin grew up on the York Peninsular. He was the youngest in his family and lived on the family farm until adulthood. When his father sold the farm and moved into the town, Gavin’s family arranged for him to move to the “Big Smoke”. He lived in supported accommodation and worked in supported employment for a short time. Gavin soon found his feet, moved into his own home and now works in open employment.

Chris is a self-advocate representing the voice of people with intellectual disability on the SACID Board, Express Yourself Self Advocacy Group, and represented South Australia on the Inclusion Australia – Our Voice Committee. Chris is now an Inclusion Worker at SACID.  Chris believes it’s important for people with intellectual disability to be included in the community, to have new opportunities to meet new people and to take part in community life.

Sarah is an Inclusion Worker at SACID where she uses her voice to support SACID to develop information for people with intellectual disability and their families. Sarah has been an Ambassador for Down Syndrome South Australia. Sarah believes it’s important for people with intellectual disability to be included and valued in the community so the community can learn to be inclusive of people with intellectual disability.

Rebeka is a skilled public speaker. She contributes to her community through involvement in dancing, where she is a mentor of school aged children with disability. Rebeka is a role model to others as someone who lives independently, maintains open employment and has a busy community life. As the current Inclusion Australia – Our Voice National representative for South Australia, Rebeka speaks up about issues important to people with intellectual disability.

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The Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) is a not-for-profit organisation that brings together research, policy and practice to improve the lives and services for people with a disability.

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