#144 November 2010

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LinkUp 144, November 2010

LinkUp #144 November 2010

The newsletter of People with Disability Australia Incorporated.

Members’ Event and Annual General Meeting, Mercure Sydney Hotel, 818-820 George Street, Sydney NSW (limited parking available) Saturday 27 November, panel discussion & AGM, 12 noon - 5pm


President 1

Guest Editor 3

National Arts and Disability Strategy: What does it really mean for people with disabilities? 6

PWD September Member Event: Meet the Regional Advocates 9

The Other Film Festival 10

It’s about the Music, not the Disability! 11

Tiwi Dreaming – the Ngaruwanajirri Inc Artists Cooperative 14

Aboriginal Disability Network 20

LinkUp also available as Braille, Audio and Large Print 20

Intimate Encounters Exhibition 20

The Little Mermaid’ 21

Why Arts, Recreation and Disability is Important 22

PWD Regional Offices 25

Artists with disability 26

Roomies Artspace 27

Why do people give? 30

Contact Us 32


Jan Daisley, PWD President

First and foremost I would like to thank the editor Hazel Freed and the staff who assisted her with the last edition of LinkUp for an excellent publication. I have had very positive feedback on the topic and the quality of the publication and I congratulate all who were involved. The bar has been set very high for future publications and I am sure we at PWD can rise to the occasion.

Arts and drama is a very interesting concept for most people with a disability. On the whole the majority of people without disability think it’s impossible for people with disability to do well in this area, but on many occasions I have witnessed people with severe and not so severe disabilities being successful in these areas and they are to be applauded for their courage and determination taking on this difficult role. I am sure many more people will branch out and endeavour to do well, in this way the sceptics will be educated and hopefully become more accepting of the abilities of all people.

As the year 2010 turns the corner into oblivion, we at PWD have set our sights on 2011. We have had a very successful year this year and we look forward to continuing success in the future.

I would like to take the opportunity to urge you all to get behind our Human Rights Defender strategy so we can expand our membership and deliver to you (our members), an even better service; after all it is our aim to please and to always put you (our members) at the top of our agenda.

If you have any pet topics for future editions please let us know and we will endeavour to fulfil your wishes.

We are trying to make our AGMs and Members’ Events more interesting so you can have input into the organisation and to help us keep the bar high.

I look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming Forum and AGM.

Guest Editor

Hazel Freed, PWD Vice President


t is, again, my pleasure as Guest Editor to invite you to this issue of Link Up.

I would like to thank our President, Jan Daisley for her kind words about the previous issue and I would like to add my thanks to all the staff who helped with the last edition. I was very pleased with the issue and I enjoyed the pictures, all those old friends, good to see. There are more pictures in this issue some new and some old members and a celebrity.

This issue focuses on the world of Art, Recreation and Disability. Since people with disabilities get involved in all aspects of arts and recreation this is a very big subject. We have tried to give an overview of what is happening in Australia at the moment and how people with disabilities can get involved.

We highlight how some people with disabilities are involved in music, films, photography, modelling for artworks. aboriginal arts and comedy.

We have information on NICAN, a short piece on the importance of arts and recreation in the lives of people with disability and a discussion on the National Arts and Disability Strategy.

Back in 1981, some of our members will remember the emphasis on the inclusion of arts and recreation in the International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP). The NSW government funded a large number of performances of and for people with disability. Who could forget the performance at the Sydney Opera House of Aldo Gennaro’s production called Stepping Out. Theatre for the Deaf was funded and produced many interesting and moving productions in theatres all over Sydney and I believe they visited schools. A group of puppeteers came here from the USA. They were called Kids on the Block. The puppets all had disabilities and told their stories to the audience. I saw their show at the theatre but I believe they also toured schools. There was a young woman who was employed to write songs for the IYDP. She attended many of the events organised by the state government but, unfortunately I can’t remember any of her songs.

Books were written, I can remember two, there was Captives of Care by John Roarty which was the story of his life in a large group home (Weemala) and the struggle for people to escape from there. This was later made into a television programme. In Melbourne a book called Annie’s Coming Out was written. This book was influential in changing the way governments cared for people with cerebral palsy.

There was a radio programme called Wheeling Free. This had a special time slot on 2SER FM. The people who ran it and presented the programme were all people with disability. Many of our members were involved with this, I remember interviewing Graeme Innes on this program and many of us will remember the late Maruska Hanak as a presenter and also John Moxon.

I am dragging these recollections from my fading memory banks, I will be 70 in December. I am sure many of our members will have clearer recollections. If so you can contact PWD and they can be incorporated into a future edition. I am sure there will be an edition for the 30 year anniversary of IYDP.

Moving on to the present, our current President has written several books. You will read about the musicians, photographers and models, the aboriginal artists. One of our staff is a Sydney 2000 Paralympian swimmer. The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe presented their work titled My Dream around the country through November.

You will see from this edition that in the world of art and recreation people with disability are involved and well represented.

National Arts and Disability Strategy: What does it really mean for people with disabilities?

Lesley Hall, CEO, AFDO

The arts enables us to say who we are and describe our place in the world. It helps us to define ourselves, give substance to our notions of identity and show what is possible. Whether someone is a graffiti artist or a drag king, the arts is a means to express identity and interpret the world.

In Australia we have a rich and complex tapestry of artistic practice. Yet because of ongoing segregation and marginalisation, people with disability are excluded from artistic practice.

The participation of people with disability in the arts as practitioners, producers and audience members is affected by many factors. Access to premises, transport, communication, education and employment are just some of the many issues preventing people with disability from being involved.

People with disability are not on a level playing field because of inadequate education and inaccessible environments. Increased opportunities for skills development in all aspects of artistic endeavour in accessible mainstream environments is essential.

One area of art making where people with disability do not fully participate is community arts. There is a large body of evidence to show the positive effects in connections to community, health and wellbeing that these types of projects develop. Yet people with disability are largely excluded from these projects because they are excluded from the community in general.

The Australian Government released the National Arts and Disability Strategy in 2009. Whilst it is reasonably comprehensive and covers most of the areas needed for people with disability to express their cultural identity, the emphasis in each of the strategies is to identify, promote, encourage, investigate, explore, examine, consider or review rather than to implement changes. This type of approach relies on the goodwill of arts administrators, venues etc to do the right thing. Generally, people wanting to do the right thing did so a long time ago, so now we need to start enforcing arts companies to take up their responsibilities.

We should be requiring arts organisations to not only develop Disability Action Plans but also to implement them. In fact no organisation especially large companies should receive government funding unless they can clearly demonstrate how they are implementing their plans and how they are succeeding in including people with disability.

There is no goal in the strategy which speaks to one of the most fundamental parts of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Articles 4 and 33 require the active involvement of people with disabilities and their organisations in all decision making. Disabled Persons Organisations (DPOs) should be involved in the implementation and monitoring of the National Arts and Disability strategy through resourcing DPOs or through appointments to Arts Boards etc.

The Strategy also does not address the key areas of skills development. Unless people with disability have access to training in their chosen field of practice they will continue to lag behind artists without disabilities. Their professional practice will not be as good and they will miss out on funding opportunities.

Whilst the Strategy is a positive step forward, it needs to have resources dedicated to it and to be imbedded in all the work of the Australia Council and government organisations. It must involve people with disability in both monitoring and implementation. It needs to be actioned through a real commitment of resources, foreseeable timelines and performance indicators.

PWD September Member Event: Meet the Regional Advocates

Nidhi Shekaran, PWD Member

“I was very happy to be invited to PWD’s Member Event and Disability Rights Defender launch, hosted by TV and Radio personality Julie McCrossin and held at Petersham RSL on Friday,

10 September 2010.

I thought that the Master of Ceremonies, Julie McCrossin, was very funny and kept the evening lively and entertaining for everyone present.

The regional advocates were also introduced at the event. It was interesting to learn that People with Disability Australia has expanded their advocacy services to new regions which include Queanbeyan, Southern Highlands and Southern Tablelands, Sutherland Shire, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Sunshine Coast and Mount Isa.

Julie interviewed each of the advocates, who spoke about their background and what they hope to give to PWD and their clients. They were all friendly people and it’s nice to know they are part of our organisation. I really liked the Lucky Door Prize section of the event, as it involved the audience that was present at the event and people really got involved. It was fun to have the combination of information mixed with audience interaction.

People with Disability Australia should also be commended for being the first disability rights organisation in Australia – that I’ve seen anyway – who also put the event onto a live webcast!

I think next time they should also include a lucky door prize for our viewers on the web as well. This way people who can’t attend the event can still have fun with those who can.

At the end of the event we were able to stay and speak with the PWD staff and other Members, which was a great way to meet new people also passionate about disability rights. We were also provided with a snack and drinks

I would encourage people to come along to PWD’s future members’ events and enjoy the event with us!”

The Other Film Festival

Arts Access Victoria

Australia’s only international disability film festival, The Other Film Festival recently took place in August 2010 and by every measure was a formidable success. Proudly presented by Arts Access Victoria, in association with the Melbourne Museum, this compelling biennial event screened 37 diverse films from Australia and around the world.

The Festival generated extraordinary local, national and international coverage by commercial, public and community broadcast and print and web exposure.

Audience attendance increased significantly and the feedback from patrons regarding programming quality and accessibility has been overwhelmingly positive. It seems as if this Festival, which has been quietly gathering speed since 2004, has now become airborne.

The Hon Bill Shorten MP gave a powerful opening night speech that set the tone for a Festival that was here to do some serious film business. Forums were feisty, the Q&As with filmmakers were enlightening and the Festival Club saw the birth of many of the ideas that will continue to drive the festival forward. The singular success of this Festival has been the enthusiasm with which the Deaf community has embraced the inaugural Deaf screening program at the Festival.

Festival guests included Canadian director Rob Spence, who following the loss of an eye in a teenage shooting accident, developed the world’s first miniature video camera and transmitter inside his prosthetic eye. Other guests included US stand-up Deaf comedian CJ Jones and filmmaker Hilari Scarl presenting their documentary about four deaf entertainers.

The documentary Nobody’s Perfect by German director Niko von Glasow was awarded Best Film at the Festival’s Closing Night Awards. According to one of the judges, Tony Sarre, the film was chosen because “firstly, it is highly entertaining. Secondly, it takes a risky, uncompromising and defiant look at disability. The film is about people affected by Thalidomide being persuaded by the director to pose naked for a calendar and then going through with it. The film shows how this experience changes the participants’ perceptions of themselves as well as the viewers’ perception of their disability.”

The festival now hits the road to screen some of the best films from the 2010 Festival in Canberra, Brisbane and Gippsland and on the big screen at Federation Square back in Melbourne.

Visit the festival website for more information and links to YouTube clips of the films at www.otherfilmfestival.com

See you at the 2012 Other Film Festival!

It’s about the Music, not the Disability!

Rory’s Story

“My name is Rory Burnside and I am 23 years old, totally blind and have Asperger’s syndrome. I am also the lead singer and guitarist in a band called Rudely Interrupted, five of whose six members have a disability.

In 2004 I lost a teacher to a 20-year battle with cancer whom I was extremely fond of. Soon after Rudely Interrupted was established, I had a conversation with our manager Rohan Brooks, during which I asked him if it was possible to die of a broken heart. This conversation ultimately led to the writing of our first single, ‘Don’t break my heart’, which we launched at the East Brunswick Club in May 2007. This song turned out to be a big hit and received a good deal of radio play, particularly on Triple R (Melbourne Independent Radio).

Our song ‘Green Lights’ stems from the fact that I have a strong interest in colours. Even though I don’t know what colours are, I know what they often represent and what they mean. For example, blue is cold, green is cool, orange is warm and red is hot, as the lyrics to ‘Green Lights’ state. I also associate common words and phrases with colours. For instance, yes is green, no is red and maybe is orange.

It is a great satisfaction to me to be able to put music to what some people may look upon as simply an obsession that I have as a result of having Asperger’s syndrome, because it allows me to discuss this subject without making people think I’m weird or boring. When we perform live, I explain to the audience what the song is about, so it engages them and helps them understand why I have such a strong interest in colours.

Rudely Interrupted formed in April of 2006 and has performed a wide range of shows at festivals, functions, pubs, clubs and schools around Australia, the USA, Canada and the UK. Not many bands have achieved as much as Rudely Interrupted in the space of four and a half years, let alone bands with disabilities.

Our second major hit, ‘Close My Eyes’, is a reflection of how successful we’ve been since our establishment. Touring overseas has been a wonderful privilege, because we are proving to the world through our music that disability is no disadvantage when it comes to musical talent.

Much of our overseas audience were taken completely by surprise by our story, especially because we look so awkward getting on and off stage, but we want to be judged on our music and the story it tells, not how we look. Our message is clear – See the musician, not the disability!”

Rory Burnside, Rudely Interrupted
Marcus’ Story

“Hi! I’m Marcus, and I’m a member of Rudely Interrupted. When the band formed in 2006, I was at Churinga Employment Supported Service for people with disabilities. I was working as one of the gardeners, mowing lawns at our depot and doing all kinds of other gardening on site and out in the community.

One beautiful sunny day I was unexpectedly told by my supervisors to come to the office. I had no idea what it was about, but I sat down on one of the chairs facing them and was told there was a band called Rudely Interrupted who were looking for a musician who could play a keyboard and synths.

Then they said they thought I was the man who would fit the bill! I was like “wow!” I had never been given a chance to play in a band before, so I was over the moon about it and really excited about the opportunity.

Soon I was living the dream of been able to play in a band! And quickly, the band were no longer just playing in the rehearsing room or at a local show, but in venues such as the East Brunswick club and The Corner Hotel.

One of our most memorable gigs would have to be our first ever big gig at the East Brunswick Club. It was almost sold out, and from the moment we got on stage the experience was of pure excitement!

Our first world tour began in the US, where we performed in New York, followed by Canada, then over to Europe to places like Manchester, London and Bristol. It was fantastic, though tiring, but we got to meet and interact with some of our fans which was another wonderful experience. It was clear they enjoyed our performances and we loved entertaining them! It was great to get out there and show the world what we can do as musicians – to show the person and not the disability and that we are a part of society just as society is a part of us.

We had another tour earlier this year, when we flew to the US for a couple of shows and then played at our first ever music festival outside Australia in Toronto, Canada.

These are just some of the amazing things I’ve done and achieved performing with Rudely Interrupted and who knows what kind of other exciting things the future will hold! Whatever happens, the Rudys are gonna keep performing and doing what they do best - playing and doing great shows.”

Marcus Stone, Rudely Interrupted

Tiwi Dreaming – the Ngaruwanajirri Inc Artists Cooperative

Peach Bleasdale, PWD Member

At the beginning of October 2010, Peach Bleasdale, a member of PWD, travelled to Bathurst Islands, the smaller of the two Tiwi Islands, with her husband, Michael Bleasdale, Executive Director, Leadership Team of PWD.

The Tiwi Islands loomed on the horizon as the Arafura Pearl dropped anchor. For a moment I felt as if I was suspended between the dazzling beauty of the turquoise water of the Arafura Sea and the bright blue sky.

The ferry had been full of excited tourists and homesick locals and everyone seemed happy to have finally arrived after a two hour journey over mostly calm waters. The barge boat arrived quickly to ferry the passengers to Bathurst and Melville islands. I watched as people carrying their precious cargo filed into the utes and big four-wheel drive vehicles parked neatly along the beach landing.

We travelled to the Tiwi Islands to visit the Ngaruwanajirri Inc, an artists’ cooperative in Nguiu, Bathurst Island and waiting to meet us was Joy Naden. She and her husband John are adult education teachers, who have managed Ngaruwanajirri for the past 16 years. Michael and I had met John and Joy on a previous visit to Darwin, to promote the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline. This visit allowed us to speak to people individually about the Hotline and importantly, to view the artists’ work and to see how it was produced.

The centre at Ngaruwanajirri is made up of a group of brick and concrete buildings with corrugated iron roofs. The largest building, known as the Keeping House, was designed to reflect a traditional bark shelter and serves as both the artists’ studio and gallery. On the solid wooden tables, flanked by sturdy bench seats where the painters work, are cups containing ochre paint.

On the walls are posters depicting the artists’ individual profiles and beautiful samples of their work. The arched ceiling of the Keeping House is made up of plywood panels, each panel painted by a different family group from the community in ochre colours.

A small gallery occupied one end of the building. The shelves on the gallery’s walls are laden with ironwood carvings of spirit beings lined up in rows. On a board hung hand-painted silk scarves in hues of rich red, orange and blue, coin purses and cushion covers. In the middle of the room was a heavy square table on top of which were huge folders containing intricate and detailed paintings and drawings of the artists’ interpretation of their country, the land and their culture rendered in ochre on paper and canvas.

Joy introduced us to each of the artists encouraging us to speak to them individually. Joy said that most of the artists spoke English quite well but we had to speak clearly as a number of them had hearing impairments. I stood in awe as I watched Aquin, Marie Yvonne and Lillian paint with delicate brush strokes.

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to talk to Marie Yvonne, the youngest artist in the group, who was a little shy and awkward. I looked at the drawing she was working on and began to ask her what all the different things were. She named the animals and plants she liked to draw, speaking so softly that I had to lean in to hear her words. I tried to repeat what she said and heard her giggle as I got nearly every word wrong.

I stood up and approached Alexandrina who was painting an exquisite batik silk scarf. She had a beautiful round face and a wide mouth so her smiles were impressive and luminous. We talked as she waited for the wax to dry on the silk cloth. I asked her what inspired her creations. She laughed and said: “I stand up and I paint and it (art) just comes out.”

Outside, leaning against the wall of one of the smaller workshops, sat a small group of men. These were the sculptors and carvers. Ken and I watched the clouds of fine sawdust rising from beneath an angle grinder as Graham shaped graceful birds from a piece of ironwood.

Ken is the chair of the art centre’s executive committee which directs the organisation. He was painting a fine cross-hatched pattern on one of his carvings when I asked what drew him to the art centre. He said that the only form of income for many people in remote communities came from creating art. Art was part of his daily life. There is an oral and visual tradition in his culture so people used and still use drawings as a way of telling stories to keep traditions strong.

Ngaruwanajirri Inc. is a place of significance and value to the community in Nguiu. The artists clearly regard the creation of art as a matter of the soul – ingrained in the same tradition but interpreted by each of them in their own way.

Just as compelling were the stories of the artists, their personalities, beliefs and perspectives on the world. It is a creative and peaceful environment where art speaks for itself and we responded to what we saw as works of fine art and not just ethnographic curiosities.

Ngaruwarranjiri is owned and managed by the artist group and operates as an artists’ co-operative studio and gallery, selling ochre paintings, limited edition prints and traditional artefacts. It supports more than 16 artists.

All proceeds from the sales are returned to artists and fund the operating costs of the art centre. Additional grant funding has been provided for some years by the Northern Territory Department of Families and Health, in recognition of the employment opportunities provided to people with disability. But the centre does not receive any of the arts funding that is provided to the Tiwi Arts centre in Nguiu, and it is reliant upon its sales to ensure that it continues to operate and that artists are properly remunerated.

Artists paint with Tiwi Island ochres which are collected and ground by hand. Some of this art has been purchased by major galleries or sold through specialised commercial galleries all over the country.

In 2008 Ngaruwanajirri won a tender to carve the tutini, (which are Pukumani poles) marking the entrance to one of the cemeteries in Nguiu. These tutini are one of the best known Tiwi artefacts, said to represent the body of the deceased or one of the ancestral beings associated with the mortuary ritual, such as Purukupali.

The entrance to the cemetery is marked by two massive tutini poles, on top of which were elaborate and finely carved barbed spears called jukwaliti. Hanging from the point at which the spears crossed was a large decorated bark basket called a tunga.

The artists had decorated the carvings with symbolic patterns of kurluwukari (circles), pwanga (dots) and marlipinyini (lines), arranged in varying compositions with the occasional incorporation of figurative motifs.

These decorations are called jilamara, which literally means colour or paint, though this term is now applied generally to describe all designs – particularly those used for body painting and tutini decoration.

This vibrant, wonderful place relies on sales of its work for its continued existence. The work is available from time to time in galleries and through exhibitions. If you are interested in learning more, or purchasing work directly, you can contact Joy or John on (08) 9878 3724.

This piece which represents the figure of Japarra, of whom the Moon is an incarnation, according to Tiwi Creation mythology. The story goes that an early Tiwi ancestor, Purrukuparli, lived with his wife Bima and his beloved infant son Jinani. Bima used to hunt and gather each day for her family, but was led astray by Japarra, the brother of Purrukuparli, who prevented her from returning one day to feed her child. As a result of the young boy being left in the sun without nourishment for the day, he died. Purrukuparli was enraged by this and hunted Bima into the bush. He fought with Japarra, both being seriously wounded and resisted Japarra’s offer to take the boy and restore him to life after three days. Instead Purrukuparli took the body of Jinani into the sea, and decreed that from that time onwards all people would be subject to death, rather than enjoying immortality. Seeing this Japarra transformed himself into the Moon, where he can still be seen, bearing the scars of his battle with Purrukuparli.

Aboriginal Disability Network



phone (02) 9319 1422

tty (02) 9318 2138

fax.0 9319 1466

LinkUp also available as Braille, Audio and Large Print

If you prefer to receive LinkUp in one of these alternative formats, contact PWD on (02) 9371-3100 or email pwd@pwd.org.au

Intimate Encounters Exhibition

Belinda Mason

The Exhibition
‘Intimate Encounters’ is a powerful photographic exhibition of 40 works representing the experiences of people with disabilities. With the assistance of Accessible Arts and Visions of Australia, “Intimate Encounters” has been touring Australia extensively for the past six years and continues to tour internationally, showing in London, Barcelona, Seville, New York, Toronto and Auckland.

Culturally, disability is ‘desexualised’ and this exhibition debunks the passive homogenised stereotypes about disability, creating new visual messages about sexuality and disability based in the lived realities of individuals with a disability. This exhibition explores the myriad connections between disability and sexuality, challenging the hidden (and often-at times not so hidden) myth in our society that only the most glamorous, attractive and successful among us lead active, healthy and imaginative sexual lives.

The Artist
Photographer, Belinda Mason, is a Sydney-based photographer who worked as a News Ltd Press photographer, before becoming a freelance. Since 1998 Belinda’s work has focused on taboo social issues which explore the very personal and sometimes difficult subjects of grief, body image, identity and family.

The Participants
The people who have collaborated in this photographic essay speak candidly though the photographic medium and through text panels about their experiences of their sexuality, representation and desires. The participants are not subject, examples or specimens but lovers, partners, spouses, and people with a full range of desires. They contest the hidden norms which assume a person with a disability has no sexual identity or desire, about what is “sexy” and who among us is allowed to feel that way, Disability is shown as part of a normal continuum of life experience and only one aspect of a person’s life.


“We cannot argue when someone says, I feel, it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our own reaction to the images exposes us to ourselves and our ability to listen when someone lays their naked soul in our path.” Artist Statement, Belinda Mason

Belinda is currently working on a project called “Fertile Ground”, challenging who has the right to have a child. All these exhibitions and additional projects can be viewed in the exhibitions section of her website www.belindamason.com

‘The Little Mermaid’

Denise Beckwith, PWD Member

“I consider myself highly privileged to be a participant in Intimate Encounters which explored the topic of disability, sexuality and body image.

It is one of the first occasions which has enabled people with disability to be viewed as whole beings and being allowed to express our entire wants, needs and desires.

It was a truly consultative process. Belinda got to know us as people. It was an education process for her but it’s also been an educative process for the participants and the people who have been involved in the project and viewed the project at various exhibitions.

Intimate Encounters has travelled nationally and internationally and I have had the opportunity as a participant to travel with it. It has been an overwhelming thing to see how viewing the exhibition stimulates people’s thoughts and beliefs in regards to people with disability in such a broad way.

This project, for me, encapsulates human rights as sexual expression and normality is what people with disability want and strive for.”

Why Arts, Recreation and Disability is Important

Craig Wallace, PWD Member

Imagine if recreation became illegal in Australia.

Where you could not go fishing, kick a footy on Sundays, join a book-club, go to a café or spend downtime with friends and families?

Imagine if we banned travel for the purposes of recreation or holidays? Where you could not board an airline or a sail a cruise ship?

Imagine if you couldn’t even retire at the end of it all? Every day like the last. No holidays or weekends. Would people put up with it?

Not in Oz. A revolution would surely follow. A Boston Tea Party but with sunscreen and a tinny. A dystopian fantasy?

The reality is that life is like this for many people with disabilities right now.

Consider the most vulnerable in group accommodation with no choice about friends they see, movies they watch and the places they go.

Or people with disabilities who feel isolated from friends, recreation or the sporting opportunities that make life worthwhile for many Australians.

Some people with a disability have been barred from planes, boats, hotels, cafes, taxis, dating agencies and other facilities, just because they look different, use a wheelchair or travel with a guide dog.

Sometimes funding and support structures support work, but not recreation or do not allow a path to retirement, even for those of advanced age. Causes include barriers, poor attitudes, a lack of income and opportunity, but above all, the idea that this is, somehow, not the main game.

So why do we often see access to sport, recreation, cultural life and tourism for people with disabilities as second string issues?

Well they’re not. These are issues at the heart of our personal liberty, development and health. Evidence suggests we ignore them at our peril.

Work by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has shown that people with disabilities are less likely to be involved in social or recreational activities.

Despite efforts to increase participation in sport, only 28% of those with a profound or severe core-activity limitation take part in activities or spectate compared with 64% of people without.

Significant differences in participation by people with different types of disability have also been confirmed in recent research by the Australian Sports Commission.

What’s more, social isolation is bad for you: a recent US scientific review of 148 studies involving 300,000 people found those with adequate social relationships were 50 per cent more likely to be alive after an average follow-up of eight years. According to the scientists involved, being socially disconnected was equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day and heavy drinking. Researchers the world over agree that isolation, loss of friends and shaping connectivity are amongst the biggest challenges - and opportunities - facing disability services.

In the same way, we sometimes trivialise and ignore the arts: yet the arts, including popular culture, are an important mirror in which we see ourselves while projecting what we value and admire to other places and times.

Where, with a few exceptions, are the mainstream portrayals, the newsreaders with a disability, the characters in drama or opera, the people on the island, the Big Brother house or Masterchef or the telling of stories from history?

Students of archaeology working in the far future might be forgiven if they concluded that people with disabilities mysteriously vanished sometime in the mid-1980’s. They certainly wouldn’t conclude that 18% of people had a disability.

Deeper digging will reveal that it is no accident that people with disabilities were hiding in plain sight. This tells the story of our absence in other domains as well as an ongoing lack of respect, rights and freedoms.

Surely the time has come to make connections and see inclusion as a whole of community project – one which sees exclusion from arts, sports, recreation, citizenship and employment as part of the same problem and a loss to us all.

Craig Wallace is a past board member of PWD and is currently the Marketing and Project Manager for NICAN as well as a member of the ABC Advisory Council.

PWD Regional Offices

If you would like advocacy support
call us on 1800 422 015


Bundaberg Region – Luke Gale

Office hours: Mon-Fri 11am to 4.30pm
PO Box 1630 Bundaberg QLD 4670

Fraser Coast Region – Rhonda Perkins

Office hours: Mon-Thur 9am to 5pm
PO Box 642 Maryborough QLD 4650

Logan City Region – Tracey Moffatt

Office hours: Mon-Thur 9am to 5pm, Fri 8am to 12pm
PO Box 62 Kingston QLD 4114

Mt Isa and Lower Gulf Communities – Valerie Brown Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm

PO Box 1615 Mt Isa QLD 4825

Sunshine Coast Region – Catherine Hall

Office hours: Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm
PO Box 21 Buddina Post Shop Buddina, QLD 4575

New South Wales

Queanbeyan Region – Lynette Russell

Office hours: Mon-Thu 9am to 5pm
PO Box 615 Queanbeyan NSW 2620

Southern Highlands & Southern Tablelands – Gareth Elliott

Office hours: Mon-Thur 9am to 5pm
PO Box 1254 Bowral NSW 2576

Sutherland Shire – Cath Posniak

Office hours: Mon-Thur 9am to 5pm
PO Box 616 Sutherland NSW 1499

Artists with disability


Andrea Bocelli - Singer

Chris Burke - Actor

Dale Chihuly - Glass Sculptor

Daniel Kojta - Multimedia

David Helfgott - Muscian

Dean La Spina - Visual Artist

Duncan Luke - Actor

Duncan Meerding - Designer

Gerard O’Dwyer - Actor

Greg Walloch - Performer

Jane Trengrove - Multimedia

Jesse Houts - Musician

Josh Blue - Comedian

Kath Duncan - Multimedia Artist

Luke Zimmerman - Actor

Lynn Manning - Actor

Melody Gardot - Singer

Neil Marcus - Performer

Peter Falk - Actor

Rachael Gadsden - Visual Artist

Ray Charles - Musician

Ross Onley Zerkel - Dancer

Samantha Connor - Visual Artist

Scott Trevelyan - Printmaker

Sharon Flanagan - Artist

Stephen Dwoskin - Filmaker

Sunaura Taylor - Painter

In History

Beethoven - Composer

Claude Monet - Painter

Degas - Painter

Francisco Goya - Painter

Francois Cuvillies - Designer

Henri Matisse - Painter

Ian Broughton - Visual Artist

Jacqueline du Pré - Musician

John Callahan - Cartoonist

Michel Petrucciani - Musician

Renoir - Painter

Tommy Wonder - Dancer

Toulouse Lautrec - Painter

Vincent Van Gogh - Painter

William Blake, Poet

Roomies Artspace

ROOMIES ARTSPACE is a community non-profit studio where boarding house residents and artists with disabilities choose to attend for professional artistic development.

ROOMIES ARTSPACE aims to provide the means for these artists to enhance skills and artistic experience through workshops and the opportunity to work individually or with volunteer mentors in a safe supported environment.

Artwork is created in the “Outsider art” tradition. Roomies Artspace aims to promote the acceptance and understanding of this style of art to the broader community by presenting professionally curated exhibitions and participating in arts and cultural events.

ROOMIES ARTSPACE is an initiative of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and an unfunded project of the Boarding House Project. We rely heavily on donations, volunteers and fundraising to operate.

Roomies Artspace aims to:

  • Develop their personal and interpersonal skills

  • Learn artistic competencies and disciplines

  • Broaden their experiences and social interactions

  • Engage in art programs, classes and workshops.

  • Gain opportunity to work individually or with volunteer mentors in a safe and supportive environment.

Artists Backgrounds

Most of ROOMIES artists live in one of the many boarding houses that exist in the Inner- West but often go unnoticed. They have very little money, they share rooms and often clothing and personal possessions. They have very little privacy and no space to themselves. ROOMIES ARTSPACE fosters the need to have arts and cultural practices as an integral part of everyday life and the choice to be represented as an artist in their own right.


ROOMIES ARTSPACE started as a series of art workshops for residents of Inner West boarding houses in 1996 and 1997 by KANCAM (later Inner West Cultural Services). By 1999, this developed into fortnightly art workshops at the Tom Foster Community Centre in Newtown under the aegis of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre’s Boarding House Project. This fortnightly group continues today and has gone on to hold annual exhibitions since 1999.

ROOMIES Artspace is located at the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville and was officially opened in October 2005 by Archibald winning artist Cherry Hood, with a sellout exhibition and a highly enjoyable opening party.

Get Involved

Roomies is looking for volunteers to run and assist art workshops or provide one on one support as artist’s mentors. If you are looking for a different art experience, have some spare time and skills to share then Roomies would like to hear from you! For more info contact Leigh or Natalie on phone (02) 9516 4755 or email bhp@newtowncentre.org

Support Us

Roomies is an unfunded project and would not be able to operate without community support and donations. All financial contributions made are tax deductible and greatly appreciated.

They will assist us in covering rent, purchasing quality art materials, hosting Exhibitions and workshops and increasing artist support. For more info on how to support us contact Leigh or Natalie on phone (02) 9516 4755 or email bhp@newtowncentre.org

Recent community arts participation and awards

  • 2010 Mental Heath Matters consumer Involvement and engagement award

  • “Roomies at the House” exhibition at NSW Parliament Fountain Court Gallery Feb 2009

  • Anti poverty week exhibition at the Addison Road Gallery 2008

  • Roomies Artspace tent at Newtown-Festivals-Nov 2007, 2008 and 2009

  • Printmaking workshops at ROOMIES art space 2008, 2009 and 2010

LinkUp also available as Braille, Audio or Large Print

If you prefer to receive LinkUp in one of these alternative formats, contact PWD on (02) 9371-3100 or email pwd@pwd.org.au

Why do people give?

Daphnée Cook, Communications and Membership Development Manager

Who says Australians don’t have deep pockets?

Giving Australia, released a report in 2005 with the then Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).

This was one of the first reports to show a growing trend amongst Australians to give, and give generously, to nonprofits.

That year, donations to nonprofits was estimated to total over $11 billion, with $7.7 billion coming from individuals. What does this say about Australians? Well for one, it says that we’re a lot more generous than we think! It also suggests as a group we really care about issues that go beyond our own lives, supporting causes that might not affect us in a material sense, but could create the society we would like to one day live in.

Of course, there is no single correct answer as to why people give. Indeed, for every different person there will be an array of different reasons:

  1. They are involved in the organisation or cause;

  2. They believe the organisation really listens to them;

  3. Their compassion is stirred and heart strings touched by the cause;

  4. They are confident that contributions are used wisely and with care;

  5. Someone they know and respect asked them to give;

  6. They are clear that their gift will help the organisation accomplish objectives they care about;

  7. They understand that their gift will really make a difference;

  8. They wish to pay tribute to someone through a charitable contribution (in appreciation for, in honour of or in memory of a particular person or event);

  9. Someone they trust explains the urgency of the need;

  10. They receive appropriate recognition for their gift that produces results;

  11. They want to pay a personal debt, such as contributing to an organisation that helped them through an illness or other crisis.

At PWD we are very excited to be receiving donations from people who have recognised us an organisation who listens and who they know will use their contributions wisely. We thank all of you who give, whether it be your time, money or in-kind – your contributions truly make a difference.

Like to know more about donations to PWD? Contact Daphnee at daphneec@pwd.org.au or call (02) 9370 3100 or visit our website at www.pwd.org.au/donations.html

Contact Us

LinkUp is the newsletter of People with Disability Australia Incorporated. We welcome contributions from members.

Editorial responsibility for this edition lies with Therese Sands, Executive Directer, Leadership Team.

© 2010 People with Disability Australia Incorporated

If you would like to receive LinkUp in an alternative format or have an enquiry please contact PWD on one of the contacts below.

Postal Address PO Box 666 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Street Address Ground Floor, 52 Pitt Street Redfern NSW 2016

Phone 02 9319 6622

Toll Free 1800 422 015

Fax 02 9318 1372

TTY 02 9318 2138

TTY Toll Free 1800 422 016

Email pwd@pwd.org.au

Website www.pwd.org.au

FaceBook http://www.facebook.com/PWD.Australia

Twitter http://twitter.com/pwdaustralia

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