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Month: August 2017

A Great Step in the Right Direction

Jordon Steele-John, who is set to fill Scott Ludlam’s seat in the Senate for the Australian Greens: ‘I’m capable and ready to do this job.’ Photograph: Greens


Excitement infused my veins as I read that Jordon Steele-John, a man with cerebral palsy, is next in line to be the next Western Australian Green Senator.

As a woman with a disability, this represents a huge milestone for the disability community. I strongly believe this illustrates that people with a disability are starting to be included in all areas of life.

Mr Steele-John who attends university, claimed that having a disability shouldn’t prevent anyone from achieving their goals. Mr Steele-John stated that he yearns to be a voice for people with disability.

As a person with a disability, when I was young I wasn’t aware of anyone with a disability in leadership roles. I didn’t really have role models with a disability, so having this representation is so important.

Mr Steele-John had to be creative whilst campaigning as the Greens candidate in Freemantle in 2013. He stated that door knocking may have been a challenge. However, he negotiated his way around this by distributing leaflets in a shopping centre, from a table containing campaign material.This shows that people with a disability may not use standard methods for achieving their goals. However, they can use alternative methods and achieve the same outcome.

I resonate with Mr Steele-John’s experience. I am often viewed as a person who requires care, not as a productive member of society. Not only is this disheartening for people with a disability, it also deprives society from reaping the benefits of having a highly productive workforce.


Ludlam’s likely replacement Steele-John wants to open doors for people with disabilities

Jordon Steele-John, a 22-year-old student who has cerebal palsy and uses a wheelchair and is the frontrunner to replace Scott Ludlam in the Senate, says he wants to break down barriers that stop people participating as full and equal citizens.

Why is this exciting?

Many people, including myself, are excited with the prospect of having someone with a disability in parliament.

I strongly believe we must strive for the time when a person with a disability becomes a member of parliament and it is considered the norm.

We become enthusiastic when we see people with a disability achieve goals people without a disability are expected to achieve. When people without a disability become a member of parliament for instance, we probably wouldn’t consider this to be too out of the ordinary.

I hope one day we will simply expect people with a disability to be members of parliament and to be active participants in all areas of society. I believe there will be a time when people with disability will be included in all areas of life.

People may say I’m a dreamer. However, I believe this can be a reality.


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Welcome to Untapped, a Newcastle initiative to create change for people with disabilities.

Newcastle Coast

What are we doing?

The inspiration for the Untapped platform occurred just over a year ago to create change in the way businesses, employers and communities think about employing people with disabilities.

Natasha Hudson from Coforte Consulting approached Response Services with the idea to bring a diverse team of people together to enhance the economic participation of people with disabilities. This diverse team of people consists of people with disabilities, carers, government representatives, service providers and other small businesses, have come together to identify existing innovation, barriers and practical solutions for economic development for people with living with disabilities. From this initial idea, Untapped was developed.


What is Untapped?

The Untapped platform was designed to create change in the way businesses, employers and communities think about employing people with disabilities. People with disabilities steer this platform to educate and alter widespread misconceptions and behaviour. The objective is for this platform to be a trusted resource for employers and the wider community.  The aim is to inspire mainstream business to become more inclusive. Once I was told of the objective of the platform I was in! I am extremely passionate regarding the topic of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As a person with a disability, my main objective in life has been to achieve employment, however, this has been thwarted due to employers misconceptions. I strongly believe if employers were educated, their attitudes would alter dramatically. I’m extremely enthused to be a part of this platform.

Earlier in the year, I was privileged to be asked to be a part of the Untapped platform. I approached Response Services to seek assistance in finding work. When I met Loesja Koleniuk from Response Services, I informed her I was a qualified researcher and writer.  I sought assistance in having my own business as a freelance writer. I told her about some of the challenges I’ve had with obtaining employment in the past. After reviewing my skills, Response Services offered me work as a freelance writer for the Untapped platform they were developing. I was ecstatic, and extremely impressed with Response Services. Not only do they talk the talk, they walk the walk. Response Services are actually doing what they are promoting, they are including people with disabilities.

My task is to write a blog each week. I include research and experiences of other people with disabilities. I also include my own personal experience of having a disability. This may appear self-indulgent, but I believe my experience may educate people and they will hopefully see I’m an extremely capable woman. By sharing my story with people with disabilities, it is my hope that others can learn from my experience.


Strategic non-profit partnerships can offer a slew of attractive benefits. From improving outreach efforts to enhancing programs, services and can help your organisation improve its impact, and sustainability. So, in an effort to expand outreach efforts and enhance the effectiveness of Untapped, we wanted to partner with other movements, businesses and organisations.

In In June we met with Mark Bagshaw, Co-founder and Chair of The Able Movement, a new social movement working to change attitudes about this enormous capacity people with disability bring to our society. The Able Movement shares the vision of Untapped, to bring about change and share the stories to demonstrate capabilities of people with disabilities. The Able Movement firmly believes that people with disabilities are capable of participating at all levels of society, they aspire to show employers that ability outweighs disability. Together, Untapped and The Able Movement recognises the power of sharing stories in generating social change. These stories will show the vibrancy of people with disabilities.

The Untapped platform will allow the voices of people with disabilities to be heard. Furthermore, it will show employers that people with disabilities can be extremely productive employees. We will show how hiring people with disabilities can enhance businesses. Society will reap benefits from an increase of people with disabilities in the workforce. We hope that the platform will be the impetus for change in the economic situation for people with disabilities.

Please join us in this journey.


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