International Day of People with Disabilities

01 Dec 2023

International Day of People with Disabilities featured image

With the focus on UN International Day of People with Disability (Dec 3, 2023) Churchill Fellows have passionately led change to make real differences in Australia for people with disabilities.

Stories are abundant where Aussies have broken new ground in areas including disability employment, education, infrastructure, technology, arts, sports and more.

For people facing challenges such as amputation, deafness, blindness, intellectual disabilities, and other mental and physical disabilities, Churchill Fellows have done groundbreaking work. Some are shared below, with a full list here of hundreds more.

Donna Purcell who is blind, ventured across the world this year to visit twenty-two of the world’s biggest companies to find out what they’re doing to lead on disability employment. Some of the big names Donna visited included Microsoft, HSBC, Loreal, Nestle, Louis Vuitton. Donna is bringing her learnings back to Australia to drive positive changes.

Rohan Symonds is passionate about combining disability research with the lived experiences of others with disabilities. He lives with a disability himself and knows the challenges. Rohan went to the USA to look at Project TEAM, whose goal is to assist youth and young adults with disabilities to identify barriers to their community participation, and teach them how to resolve them using an empowering, ground-up approach. Rohan chose Project TEAM as his Fellowship Project as it combines his vocation of advocacy, research and has a firm belief it will make a difference.

Jan Kornweibel ventured around the world back in 1981 with her Fellowship to “study developments in the practical application of microprocessor computer based aids for the disabled.” Jan is still actively working in this space today.

Sian Spencer, a physiotherapist and an avid rock climber and has recently released her report after she travelled to Austria, Italy, United Kingdom, and the USA to develop and prepare Australian athletes for international paraclimbing competitions. Sian’s project aimed to prepare athletes for international competition by building capacity to classify the athletes, foster better understanding of the intricacies of competition paraclimbing at an international level.

Heather Batten, a physiotherapy amputee specialist, recently travelled to Denmark, England, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, and Sweden to explore ways of improving the transition period for people with lower limb amputation from hospital to living in the community and home.

Natalie Graham recently travelled to Canada, Italy, United Kingdom, and USA investigate programs that empower people with intellectual disability to improve health outcomes. She gained knowledge on aspects of advocacy programs that focused on people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of inclusion in the community. She also learnt ways to continue to assist people with intellectual disabilities to increase their skill base to become effective self-advocates leading to improved health outcomes.

Churchill Fellows who have led positive changes in the areas of disability around Australia here:

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