It was inspiring hearing Rebecca Feldman and Satu Aho from our Client Experience team speak about our ‘My Identity, My Choice program’ at the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS on Tuesday 7 November.
This particular hearing of the broader inquiry looked at issues within the NDIS regarding sexuality, sexuality development and sexual expression of people with disability.
It was an honour to be invited by the Committee to speak and to be recognised for our work in the LGBTIQA+ space.
In their powerful presentation, Rebecca and Satu shared some of the lessons we have learned, so far, from participants of our ‘My Identity, My Choice’ program. They spoke about what disability service providers and the NDIA can take from their insights. You can read more about the hearing and access the session recording on our website.
The NDIS Act states that people with disability have the same right as other Australians to realise their potential for physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Sexual expression and identity is a human right.
Satu, who identifies as an LGBTIQA+ person with disability, said during the inquiry, clients need support to explore and shape their identity and narratives. “We can’t expect people to be able to communicate their values and choices without first providing safe support exploring these,” Satu said.
This is the first step in a longer journey. As a disability support service provider, we will continue our important work of supporting our clients to explore their identities, starting with the education and mentoring of staff to have these conversations around sexual expression and identity with clients, and supporting them to connect to community.
As quoted from one of the program participants, “even one connection to the LGBTIQA+ community made a difference.”
Rebecca, who also identifies as an LGBTIQA+ disabled person put it succinctly when she highlighted a key message that came through from clients Yooralla supports “it’s important that you know that our [people with disability] sexuality and gender identities matter. That LGBTIQA+ people matter, and that you care about that part of who we are.”
Congrats Bec and Satu on your work at Yooralla and your evidence at the hearing. I’d also like to thank Pride Foundation Australia, Inclusion Melbourne and Yooralla Foundation for their support to fund this work.
Stay safe and well.
Chief Executive officer