Bass Coast,

No Barriers At Disability Conference

From connections between disability and spirituality to finding workplace assistance, two Bass Coast residents had the opportunity to hear and discuss all things disability at the recent 2014 ‘Having A Say’ Conference.

Bass Coast residents with disability, Nathan Lowenstein and Damian Jones, were sponsored by Bass Coast Shire Council to attend the annual Conference, which is organised by people with disability, for people with disability.

Around 950 people attended the Conference in Geelong last month, with the 2014 theme being ‘Our Voice’ – encouraging people talking to each other, speaking out together and demanding to be heard.

Mr Lowenstein said he enjoyed listening to the various talks at the event, including a keynote address on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“The Scheme is basically just in Geelong at the moment, but it’s going to come to all of Victoria and when it gets to this region, I think there’ll be scope for Council to get involved in administering it.

“I know it’s a Federal Government thing, but I don’t see why our Council couldn’t get involved, particularly through its Community Care Workers – it could all be linked in,” Mr Lowenstein said.    

“I also heard a hearing impaired girl talk, which was really interesting, and a talk with a guy living with autism. I was expecting him to be very withdrawn, but he was very outspoken in getting support for people with autism.”

Mr Lowenstein said the Conference also gave participants the opportunity to take part in discussions and presentations.

“I attended a session on speaking out about your ambitions and goals and we wrote down some of our goals on butchers’ paper to present back to the gathering,” Mr Lowenstein said.

“I talked about how I’d like to be the first disabled member of Parliament one day.”

Mr Jones, who is a current member of Council’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee, said he also enjoyed the event, taking part in the various come-and-try activities also on offer.

“It was a valuable experience to meet new people with varying disabilities and learn how they cope in everyday life,” Mr Jones said.

Council has been sponsoring local residents to attend the Conference since 2008.