How can I make a difference in the lives of people with disability?

Posted 1 month ago by Georgie Waters
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Fundraising is a great way to show support for others, but there are other ways you can provide support for people with disability. [Source: Shutterstock]
Fundraising is a great way to show support for others, but there are other ways you can provide support for people with disability. [Source: Shutterstock]

What are the best ways to help people with disability in my community?

Key points

  • Some people with disability may die up to 20 years earlier than people without disability, according to the World Health Organization
  • One advocate, Rachel Kerr, has recently been awarded the 2023 John Studdy Award for her significant contribution to the lives of people with multiple sclerosis, a condition that can cause problems with balance and vision
  • You can make a difference in the lives of people with disability through multiple avenues including fundraising, volunteering and being a disability advocate

Around 4.4 million Australians live with disability, which is 18 percent of the country’s population, according to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

However, some people with disability may die 20 years earlier than people without disability and they face many health inequities, as per information on the World Health Organization website. 

One person making a difference for people living with certain conditions includes Rachel Kerr who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 17. While this disease attacks the central nervous system and causes problems with vision, walking and balance, Rachel has been a great advocate for people with MS and has gone on to win this year’s John Studdy Award.

MS Australia President, Associate Professor Des Graham was thrilled to present the award this week to a worthy recipient who has made a significant and ongoing impact on the lives of people living with MS. 

“Rachel is hard working, humble and dedicated in her work which has resulted in making a remarkable difference for many people living with MS and giving a voice to regional communities across Queensland,” Associate Professor Graham said.

In response to receiving the award, Rachel mentioned her reasoning for showing such dedication to advocating on behalf of people with MS. 

“Volunteering has enabled me to turn my MS into an asset and I am very humbled to accept this award and to be recognised by one’s peers,” said Rachel.

Rachel has helped raise over $220,000 dollars for her hometown region of Central Queensland for Multiple Sclerosis Australia, as well as having created a support group and organised fundraising events such as the first Central Queensland MS Swimathon.

If you’d like to help others with disability or health conditions, but you’re not sure where to start, there are multiple ways you can show support and make a difference in the lives of others. 

While people with disability are capable of fundraising and advocating for themselves, getting a community involved can make a big difference in the overall impact. 

 

Awareness and advocacy 

Even by just talking about your experience with disability, you can increase people’s understanding of what your life is like and how certain changes in society could improve everyone’s lives.

Advocates help to make changes across the community to improve accessibility, inclusion and policies affecting people with disability.

An advocate can also enable and support you by:

  • helping you understand your rights;
  • listening to your concerns;
  • discussing your options for raising that concern.

The six types of advocacy are: citizen, family, individual, legal, systemic and self-advocacy. Read this article for detailed descriptions of these advocacy types and to learn more about the basics of disability advocacy.

 

Fundraising

By participating in or hosting a fundraising event for people with disability, not only does this provide a platform to start conversations about advocacy, but it also creates a way to raise funds to help people living with disability. 

Different types of fundraisers can include bake sales, barbeques, raffles, trivia nights and fun runs. For example, each April, Vision Australia holds a national fundraising campaign to encourage Australians to get 100 kilometres of movement in one month to support Australians who are blind or have low vision. 

In 2023, participants and sponsors raised $70,000 dollars in the 100K Your Way fundraising campaign. Read more about this event in this article: Opening Australians’ eyes to help people who are blind or have low vision.

However, there are rules and regulations associated with fundraising for individuals and organisations. The NSW Government outlines the key responsibilities of a fundraising committee, with detailed information available on its website. Refer to your local state information to ensure you meet all requirements for fundraising.

 

Support

Creating a support group is a helpful way for you to engage with others who have similar difficulties or challenges associated with specific disability. With current technology, support groups can be held in online meetings or chat rooms if members live too far from each other. In-person meetings may involve a chat at a cafe or library, where members are informed of the group’s meeting time and location in advance. 

Benefits of support groups include:

  • having a greater sense of community;
  • being comfortable to talk about personal concerns;
  • learning more about others’ experiences of treatments;
  • improving coping skills.

 

Education

Whether you know someone with disability or not, learning about what life might be like for someone with disability can increase understanding in society and reduce barriers for people with disability. 

Reading online about people’s personal stories and talking to friends or family with disability to understand their experiences could give you a deeper appreciation of the challenges they may face. 

 

Have you participated in a fundraising event? What are your top tips?

Let the team at Talking Disability know on social media. 

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Opening Australians’ eyes to help people who are blind or have low vision

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