‘I Can’t Stand’ — the podcast where people with disability share their story

Posted 9 months ago by David McManus
Peta’s has a smooth cadence and a talent for bringing insight out of people with disability through the ‘I Can’t Stand’ podcast. [Image supplied by Peta Hooke via ABC Everyday]
Peta’s has a smooth cadence and a talent for bringing insight out of people with disability through the ‘I Can’t Stand’ podcast. [Image supplied by Peta Hooke via ABC Everyday]

Key points:

  • Peta Hooke is a podcaster with cerebral palsy, who interviews people with disability to find out more about their life stories
  • Ms Hooke has a ‘no questions off the table’ policy, which gives each episode a personal and unrestricted look at societal attitudes and systems which impact people with disability on a day-to-day basis
  • Despite supporting a sense of curiosity about the lives of people with disability, Peta said context is important to show respect


Peta Hooke, host of the ‘I Can’t Stand’ podcast and self-described “30-something, single Melbourne girl living with cerebral palsy”, is offering Australians insight they might otherwise miss.

The podcast didn’t begin through a journalism degree or a desire for fame, however, as Ms Hooke earned a Bachelor of Business and Commerce and a Master’s degree in Tourism. Peta did her master’s thesis on accessible tourism and travel, hoping to get into marketing or guiding the development of accessibility. Although, upon graduating, she noticed that the job market was a daunting and immovable barrier to entry for someone with a visible disability, noting that people seemed to make their mind up about her the second she entered a room.

“I eventually gained employment, but it wasn’t in the area that I’m most passionate about. At the same time — when you have a disability — I was just so grateful to be employed and to be part of a community, to be seen as valuable to that organisation,” said Peta.

“It took me a long time to be, like, ‘this isn’t my passion and I need to follow my passion.’ So, I was encouraged by a colleague and a boss to use my voice and I took that advice, literally. During covid I did a podcast course and here we are today.”

Although it’s great to have a friend to vent to about a difficult day, the struggles of living with disability, along with the stigma surrounding discussions of impairment, may create a rift that makes communication difficult. Peta’s determination, advocacy, smooth and reassuring voice — paired with her lived experience of cerebral palsy — leads to some very engaging content. Ms Hooke shared details about an upcoming episode featuring an author from Phoenix, Arizona, who lives with muscular dystrophy.

“She had the most amazing story and every time I talk to someone, I never really know where the conversation is going to lead. I love that exploration into people’s stories, because I truly believe — regardless of who you are — everybody has a really interesting story,” Peta added.

‘I Can’t Stand’ works so well with its audience because the conversations are shared by those affected by the topics. The podcast serves as an open forum for honest conversations — even the tongue-in-cheek title is a reference to Peta’s use of a wheelchair. Ms Hooke said that good-faith curiosity is generally appropriate from those without a disability, but context can absolutely influence how subjects can lead to ableism when approached the wrong way.

When asked about her approach to interviewing others, the host shared her industry insight: “[…] illustrating their voice and allowing that person to be heard. That is always paramount in everything that I do.”

“I’m not an expert. I’m just one person with a disability and I don’t think I can represent every person in the community and their thoughts and feelings on how [disability] should be presented. I’m also not a trained journalist. I’m just a person with their podcasts that loves to talk to people and cares about people’s stories,” Peta said.

To catch new episodes of the podcast or get in touch to have your questions answered, check out ‘I Can’t Stand’ online.