My first fellowship meeting for the trip was with Ngila Bevan Co-director at. People with Disabilities Australia (PwDA). PwDA have been an important part of this trip for me since the application stage of my fellowship because a meeting with some of their representatives about 6 years ago made me begin to question how inclusive and accessible DPOs were in the UK.
In 2011 I met Lesley at an international disability conference she was engaging, on it and just happened to have a learning disability. She was not representing people with learning disabilities but the whole of the organisation.
For me at the time it was a bit of light-bulb moment (a bit late I know) that with the right support everyone who wants to can lead.
When I found out that I had been awarded the fellowship a visit to PwDA became a must. I wanted to gain a better understanding of how the organisation supports inclusive leadership.
From my chat with Ngila 5 things really stuck out
Currently (although the future is looking uncertain) many pan-impairment dpos in Australia receive funding from local or national government to cover core running costs. This seemed almost alien to me.
The disability sector in Australia was able to come together as a whole and submit a shadow report from civil society to the United nations on the united nations convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. Although people acknowledge compromises were made to achieve this the outcome has been organisations have found it easier to work together nationally on other issues.
3.Will – being inclusive and accessible just seems to happen when asked what policies or procedures support this approach the answer is none and why wouldn’t we be accessible to all. There is an acknowledgement of the need for identity specific organisations as well.
4.Openness PwDA seems to be very open I think that this in part comes from the stability in funding and is possibly helped by the fact there isn’t a language division between dpos and the general public.
5. Entry points PwDA have open calls to the membership to represent the organisation. They provide briefing and training to support people to carry out the opportunities. They also encourage people to stand for board positions as a development opportunity and offer internships to disabled students.
These are just a few of my initial observations more will follow in my final fellowship report.