A new campaign is educating the public that not all disabilities are visible.
Think Outside The Chair (TOTC) is a collaborative campaign between disability service providers Fairhaven and Ability Links, shopping centre The Imperial Centre, insurance agency Blue Badge Insurance Australia, engagement and marketing specialists SOMO Society and the NSW Government, seeking to inform, educate and engage the community to look beyond the physical indicators of disability.
Research shows over 4.2 million Australians have a disability and between 70-80 percent of all disabilities are invisible, including conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, Lupus, diabetes, brain and spinal injuries, cystic fibrosis, autism, cancer, dementia, vision impairment and many more.
The campaign was brought to life by Marni Walkerden, who works at disability service provider, Ability Links and has experienced discrimination firsthand.
“People living with disabilities have a lot to consider when they venture out into the community, sometimes it’s negotiating parking spots and sometimes it’s the availability of bathrooms,” she says.
“The abuse that can happen on a daily basis is at times unbearable. To add abuse on top of what they [people with disability] need to accomplish makes everyday living challenging and can become isolating.”
TOTC was launched at The Imperial Centre in Gosford on December 6 with many coming out to show their support.
Fundraising and Marketing Manager at Fairhaven Sarah Williams says the launch was a success and the support by everyone has been overwhelming.
“It is critical to educate the general public, without a wave of awareness rippling right across our communities, nothing will change,” Ms Williams says.
“Just about everyone supports the wellbeing of the most vulnerable members of our community, it is simply that most just don’t know about the scale of this particular problem."
At the launch Ability Links pledged to cover the cost of a campaign video to raise awareness around disability parking during the busy Christmas period, which will be released at the end of this week.
TOTC campaign leaders are asking the Australian community to get on board by sharing the Facebook page, sharing the Youtube video, taking a photo with the hashtag #TOTC, putting the downloadable posters up in your workplace and carparks, sticking a bumper sticker on your car and spreading the word.
“The Centre Manager, Deb Warwick at the Imperial Centre in Gosford, had all the ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ poster all around their car parks ... this is a real game changer,” Ms Williams says.
“If other shopping centres follow suit, this will absolutely help raise awareness and change attitudes.”
Chief Executive Officer of Fairhaven Monique Cardon is encouraging every Australian to become an advocate for this cause.
“We want this to be a tidal wave of change that not only sweeps Gosford and the Central Coast, but Australia and beyond,” she says.
“We are looking to advance our collaboration globally. Let’s do this.”
For more information on the TOTC campaign click here.