A day filled with fun and activities - Yooralla's Big Day Out and Excellence Awards

Gatha Groove in the photobooth

What a day it was on Monday 28 November, as we reunited in-person for the first time in three years to celebrate our Annual General Meeting (AGM), Big Day out and Excellence Awards event.

This event is not only our time to celebrate our incredible Yooralla community, but also to celebrate International Day of People with Disability – recognised on 3 December every year.

More than 300 people joined us in person at the Melbourne Town Hall and over 100 joined online, with clients, staff and other members of the disability community making the journey from across Victoria to get involved on this momentous occasion.

It was a fun-filled day for all, with attendees showing off their competitive side with indoor bowling, noughts and crosses and giant Jenga; getting their picture taken at the photobooth; enjoying a sensory experience using air sticks; and more!

We welcomed ‘Gatha Groove, the dance troupe from Leongatha Community Hub – some who made the journey in person and others online to perform for attendees. They graciously let members of the crowd join in their dancing efforts – cutting a rug to some classic hits including the Macarena, YMCA and the Nutbush!

While the trek from Leongatha was certainly long, we had a very special guest, Maureen, join us all the way from Swan Hill! journeying for eight hours, accompanied by her support worker Emily, Maureen wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations and was the number one recruiter for the dance floor – even getting our CEO Terry Symonds and other members of the Leadership team up and dancing! Maureen has been a Yooralla resident for more than 40 years, you can read more about her memories on our website.

It was also so great to welcome a record number of attendees from our Ventilator Assisted Accommodation Service (VASS) and residents from our Neurological Support Services (NSS) for the very first time to the celebratory event.

A mega-day of events and activities

Attendees were treated to a mega-day of events and activities, including a very special address from our guest speaker Nimo Hersi, a prominent disability advocate, who shared her personal journey to advocacy and her thoughts on how to promote leadership for people with lived experience.

“Today I want to advocate for more inclusion in all aspects of employment in the sector,” said Nimo.

“Disability leadership and the way we advocate is changing. Our voices are aligning too – one thing is clear: we need more leaders with disability in the community services sector.”

“Lived experience needs to be nurtured. When it [lived experience] is nurtured, it has far greater potential. Limited to one narrative adds no value,” Nimo said.

This powerful message was supported by Eliza Hull, musician, writer, speaker and advocate, who was recently announced as an ambassador for this year’s International Day of People with Disability.

“We have a long way to go in removing the many barriers that people with disability face, but I also feel like we’re at a really great time where we’re starting to see change and I want to thank everybody for their advocacy,” said Eliza.

Eliza performed a selection of her beautiful and poignant songs, which spoke to so many in the room – in particular her hit track ‘Running Underwater’, a song about disability, pride and acceptance, which saw a few watery eyes among the attendees.

Thank you to all those who participated in our annual celebration from across Victoria, we hope you had a wonderful day!

If you attended and would like to provide some feedback, you can do so by completing this online survey. We want to hear your ideas so we can make next year even better.

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