Council challenging ableism this International Day of People with Disability

Greater Shepparton City Council is once again acknowledging International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) in 2020, but will take its celebrations online due to COVID-19.

IDPwD is a United Nations observed day celebrated internationally on 3 December each year. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

Council would usually take the opportunity to hold events to promote the day and raise awareness, however with COVID-19 restrictions currently in place this will have to be done online in 2020.

This year, Council will join IDPwD in promoting and acknowledging the achievements and contributions of people with disability through a digital online campaign.

Council is taking the chance to raise awareness of and put the spotlight on a specific word that those living with a disability deal with every day – Ableism. Through this, Council is hoping to challenge the way we view ableism in the community.

“Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual or psychiatric disabilities, or those who are perceived to have disabilities,” Council Access and Inclusion Officer Mark Tomkins said.

“All of us would’ve seen or heard the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or another – that is ableism. Ableism is intertwined in our culture, and Council is challenging that.”

“As small children, many non-disabled people are taught to be ‘extra’ nice to people with disabilities: open the door for them, run to press the elevator button for them, or ask if they need any help as they are crossing the street. 

“Of course there is good intention behind this, but by explicitly being ‘nice’ to those living with a disability, what we’re really doing is pitying them based on the belief that they couldn’t do any of these things on their own. That is why Council is taking the chance to educate our community on what helps, and what doesn’t.”

For more information on IDPwD in Greater Shepparton contact Council Access and Inclusion Officer Mark Tomkins on 5832 9700, or please visit:

This webpage also includes a video interview with local man Peter O’Connor. Peter has achieved a huge amount throughout his life all while living with impaired vision.

Below are some profiles on people Council has decided to showcase. These people have embraced the concept of ableism, they are not defined by their disability and are always striving to live their life the best they know how.

Stella Young

Stella Young was a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn't, she'd like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity:

Dylan Alcott

Dylan is a Paralympic gold medalist, World Champion, Grand Slam champion and world record holder for both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis. He is a keen advocate for people with disabilities, and is an ambassador for the charities Starlight Foundation and Variety which help change the lives of kids with disabilities across the country. Dylan is also a music enthusiast, and is well known for his wheelchair crowd surfing at music festivals:

Peter O’Connor

Peter is a Shepparton local who embodies this year’s focus of Ableism. Peter has spent time working in telecommunications and as a radio host and presenter. Peter is a qualified master scuba diver and is currently training to achieve his private pilot license. Peter has achieved all this while living with impaired vision. To view a Council-produced interview with Peter, please click here.


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