7th March 2019
Celebrating twenty years of the Having a Say Conference with our biggest contribution ever!
The Having a Say conference is a highlight every year for DSC. As the largest conference in Australia for people with disability, Having a Say puts the thoughts and experiences of people with disability at the centre of everything they do. For DSC, it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to speak directly to people with disability about the importance of Speaking Up and It’s OK to Complain.
Will, a DSC community researcher, says, “The Having a Say conference was a really diverse community for me to be a part of. The stands and the amount of companies that got together really shared out a lot of information. It was a big learning experience for me to be part of it for the first time.”
This year, DSC had two info stands at both the conference and the neighbouring Our Choice Expo, reminding people that It’s Still OK to Complain to us about Victorian disability services, including those that are funded by NDIS. We reminded people that they can also complain about their NDIS Local Area Coordinator as well!
Fran, a DSC community researcher, said, “I loved it so much. It was the best experience and I have learned so much. The whole project has been fantastic and life-changing. It’s like I’ve woken up.”
DSC was kept busy on Day 1 of the conference with running a music workshop, Come and Try wrap art workshops, and the launch of the together project art exhibition.
Disability Services Commissioner Arthur Rogers presented on the morning of Day 2 of the conference. He acknowledged the contribution of Laurie Harkin AM, the inaugural Commissioner, and introduced himself to the audience…with a few cheers and jeers from the audience when he said he was a fan of the Geelong Cats! Most importantly, Arthur was there to remind the audience that DSC is still around to take complaints about disability services, as well as some of other safeguarding functions.
Caption: Professor Peter Oakes presenting on Safe and Respectful Cultures
Professor Peter Oakes, a researcher on the DSC Building Safe and Respectful Cultures research project also presented on the Tuesday about some of the early findings of the research. He started his presentation by asking people to talk to each other about how they are feeling, and why they are feeling the way they do. Talking and communication, he said, is key to building safe and respectful cultures: “It’s better when we talk, when we listen, when we build respect into the services we receive.”
And what is a conference without a conference dinner disco? We loved dressing up to the 1920s theme with flappers and gangsters galore and dancing the night away on the packed dancefloor.
We were inspired by Robert Martin, the first person with learning disability to be elected to a United Nations Committee, who spoke at the conference chat. “It’s not bricks and mortar that make institutions, it’s the thoughts, feelings and attitudes of others that makes it so.”
As Disability Services Commissioner Arthur Rogers said in his presentation, “It enriches the community when you speak up about your rights.”
DSC encourages everyone to speak up, to enrich the community, and to change the thoughts, feelings and attitudes of others to create a world where we are all truly equal.