Listen to those with a disability, advocate Carly Findlay says

IT isn’t the body that is disabling to 20 per cent of Australians, rather society that is holding people with a disability back.

Ahead of the International Day of People with a Disability this Sunday, activist and advocate Carly Findlay urged the crowd at a special celebration at The Cube on Friday to be proud of their disabilities and own their stories.

CHANGE: Carly Findlay wants to change the perception that people with a disability must overcome their limitations to be accepted by society. Picture: MARK JESSER

CHANGE: Carly Findlay wants to change the perception that people with a disability must overcome their limitations to be accepted by society. Picture: MARK JESSER

“Things like not having physical access to buildings, or taxi drivers not understanding they should accept fares from people with guide dogs, attitudes around employment – they’re more disabling than our bodies,” she said.

“They stop us from living a full life in society.

“There’s the idea that people with a disability need to overcome our physical condition, but what we actually have to overcome are the barriers that are set-up by society.

“If those barriers were removed, we could function better.” 

CHANGE: Carly Findlay wants to change the perception that people with a disability must overcome their limitations to be accepted by society. Picture: MARK JESSER

CHANGE: Carly Findlay wants to change the perception that people with a disability must overcome their limitations to be accepted by society. Picture: MARK JESSER

Ms Findlay wants people to stop and listen to the needs of the disability community.

Not just this Sunday, but every day.

She raised a number of alarming statistics on Friday, notably that 45 per cent of disabled people live below the poverty line, and that 90 per cent of intellectually disabled women have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

“My life is really different to some disabled people – I live above the poverty line, I’ve had stable work since I was 17, I’m in a stable relationship, I’m tertiary educated,” she said.

“These opportunities aren’t afforded to so many people.

“People with disability experience higher rates of violence than the rest of the community.

“So often those people, particularly those with an intellectual disability, aren’t listened to because they aren’t considered to be a reliable source.

“That is really sad, there needs to be more belief, when someone says an abuse is happening they need to be listened to and it needs to be investigated.” 

Ms Findlay, who is affected by a rare skin condition called Ichthyosis, was highly praised for her turn on the ABC’s ‘You Can’t Ask That’.