Author and disability advocate Carly Findlay has received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) as a part of the 2020 Australia Day awards honours list.
Ms Findlay was awarded an OAM to recognise her services to people with a disability through her advocacy work.
Appointment to the Order of Australia recognises outstanding achievement or service in a certain locality, field of activity or to a particular group. It is the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service in Australia.
Ms Findlay describes herself as a writer speaker and appearance activist and she uses social media as a tool to help her advocate and to share stories.
“My goal is to change the perception of people who look different through facial difference, skin conditions, disability, and also increase the representation of us in the media,” Ms Findlay says.
“I also use social media to amplify the voices of people who aren’t often heard.”
Winning the award hasn’t sunk in yet and she says that it probably won’t until she is able to hold the medal, adding that receiving the award has caused mixed emotions.
She adds “ I feel like sometimes in the disability community we are not allowed to have individual success and I feel like there is a real sense of tall poppy syndrome.
The recognition of her work and advocacy has not just been about her but the impact she has had on the wider community as a role model.
“[I’ve] thought about my own achievements and how that has contributed to the wider community and realised it hasn’t just been about me. It has been about people that I’ve helped...”
Receiving the award on the national stage is important to Ms Findlay and she hopes that it will mean others are able to be recognised for their work in the same way.
She adds “It is so important for disabled people to be acknowledged in this way, so formally, and also on a national level. It is important because we as a community continually face low expectations. We face poor reporting in the media about us and it is really really important that we are lifted up and we can show people what’s possible, both in our community and outside of our community. It’s time that we stopped getting the dregs and getting the recognition that we deserve.”
Ms Findlay has no plans to stop her work this year. She is currently editing Growing Up Disabled in Australia which is a book in the Black Ink Growing Up series and is due to be released in June.
The book is a collaborative effort and contains over forty stories from disabled people.
“Describing the types of people she says that it ranges “from people like Jordon Steele-John, El Gibbs, Gayle Kennedy who is an amazing Aboriginal writer. Dion Beasley, who is an Aboriginal artist and Isis Holt... and lots of other people who people wouldn’t have heard of before as well.”
For the full list of Australia Day honours, click here.