* Today 3 December is International Day of People with Disability.
* A leading CSU academic calls on the Australian community to celebrate its diversity, including people with disabilities
A leading Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic and person with a disability has called on Australia to celebrate diversity in its community, including people with disabilities.
The call comes as the world celebrates today (3 December) International Day of People with Disability, with this year’s theme as empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.
“International Day of People with Disability is a day to celebrate our diverse community, and to advocate for inclusiveness and equality for people with disability,” said Associate Professor Cate Thomas (pictured), who is Associate Dean (Academic) with the CSU Faculty of Science, based in Wagga Wagga.
“People with disability have incredible skills, talents and contributions as we all do, but at times it is necessary to remind society of this,” Professor Thomas said.
“I will always be a strong advocate for all people with disability, including those with hidden disability, to empower and to raise the issue of equality and inclusiveness across such diverse arenas as delivering services, through to challenging current government policies.”
Professor Thomas has mobility and hearing disabilities, disabilities that are more hidden and not noticeable to most she passes as she walks along the street.
“I want to break down the societal norms that say ‘you walk and talk therefore everything is good’. We must be aware that some disabilities are not obvious,” Professor Thomas said.
“We have really moved forward since the Richmond Report into mental health and developmental disability services. We have established community and independent living, post school options and a range of other services, but we still have further to go - empowering, inclusiveness and equality are at the forefront of these changes.
Having written a chapter recently in a text just released on making the invisible disability visible – ‘insights – making the invisible visible in education and practice’ Professor Thomas said, “It is incredibly important to continue to empower people with disability, and I encourage everyone to be a part of it.”
As a diversity and equality for people with disability advocate, Professor Thomas has also authored a chapter in the book ‘social work innovations and insights.’