People with disability deserve a fair go, JFA Purple Orange says

The disability organisation will run six free workshops in Murray Bridge with the aim of breaking down barriers which keep people segregated.

“Segregation”: the word conjures images of racial divides in the United States, but it applies just as well to people with disability in Australia in the 21st century, an advocate says.

Andrew Gibson is one of the organisers of a series of free workshops for people with disability, their family members and allies which will begin in Murray Bridge next week.

The Purple Orange skill workshops will help participants:

  • Build a vision and take charge of their lives

  • Make their plans

  • Manage their supports

  • Connect with their communities

  • Feel at home, and

  • Safeguard their success

Purple Orange’s philosophy centred on “citizenhood”, Mr Gibson said: the idea that every person was able to fill roles that gave them value within society.

“A lot of people with disability aren’t seen like that,” he said.

“People with disability are often seen as having nothing to contribute – they suffer from the tyranny of (other people’s) low expectations.”

Those expectations were what led people with disability to be shuffled aside into special schools, homes and workplaces, he said.

As a result, they missed out on opportunities to socialise and connect with other people.

Too often they experienced only "transactional” relationships with support workers or employers, rather than more organic relationships.

People who were disconnected from their communities were at a greater risk of harm, he said, pointing to the example of Adelaide woman Ann-Marie Smith, who died as a result of severe neglect earlier this year.

Even someone with an enormous amount of NDIS funding could still feel isolated.

“It’s not a big thing – we’re just trying to change the world,” he said, his grin audible over the phone.

“We’re giving people the power to live their own lives, rather than (being told) ‘this is what you can do, this is what you can have’.”

The six free skill workshops will be held at the Bridges Event Centre, at Gifford Hill, beginning on Wednesday, August 19.

Video, photo: JFA Purple Orange.