Tomorrow, Tuesday the 12th of October, four UC students and staff members will be answering all of the weird, personal, and sometimes, kind of rude, questions that you want to know about living life with a disability. The event, which is celebrating the International Day of People with Disability, is based on ABC’s hit TV series, You Can’t Ask That. It will include a Q&A panel discussion, an address by UC Vice-Chancellor Paddy Nixon, and Vithyan Jeyasingham discussing their lived experience of disability in higher education.
For the past week, the SRC and Inclusion & Engagement (I & E) have been collecting questions, submitted by students and staff members at UC, to ask their panelists. This event is a chance for the panelists to answer questions they get asked every day.
As a person with a disability, I often get inundated with inappropriate questions from strangers, especially when needing support such as a walking aid.
‘Why are you using that walking aid?’
‘Do you have a knee injury or something?’
‘Are you faking it?’
‘Is that aid just a fashion statement?’
‘What’s wrong with you?’
Questions that make me feel judged, embarrassed, and even unsafe, but come from people who probably mean no harm. While many people go about it the wrong way, curiosity about things we don’t understand and will most likely never experience is human nature. It’s important that we all have a deeper and more personal understanding of disabilities and the people who have them, but those questions need to be asked in a safe space.
Tomorrow, that safe space is being provided by the SRC and I&E, at the You Can’t Ask That event. For Zali, it’s a chance to educate people.
“As someone with an invisible disability, I have seen so much stigma around how we are treated, and I hope that speaking about my experience helps break some of those stigmas and stereotypes around it!”
Meet the panelists!
Zali Meg McPherson
“I’m Zali, and I am currently a second-year student studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in applied statistics. Currently, I work at COS and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children. I aspire to further my studies by completing a Master’s of Public Health. I grew up in Texas, Nigeria, and Brunei, which inspired me to pursue a career in public health. I wanted to participate in the panel because, as someone with an invisible disability, I have seen so much stigma around how we are treated, and I hope that speaking about my experience helps break some of those stigmas and stereotypes around it!”
“I am currently in my final semester studying a Bachelor of Politics and International Relations and Bachelor of Business majoring in Management. I am currently working full-time as a Property Manager for LJ Hooker and over the next few years, I hope to do a master’s in project management so I can have a career in Project Management. Something I find interesting about me is my hobby of painting sneakers. It is a calming activity and I love seeing people enjoy them once they are finished.
I have decided to participate in this panel as it can be an educational tool to bring normalcy and awareness for people living with disabilities.”
“I am a UC Alumni, having completed a Bachelor of Social Science, I am currently studying my Juris Doctor and also work as the Work Integrated Learning Coordinator for the Faculty of Arts and Design. I was honoured to be part of the panel as I know that there is a lot of stigma around having a disability, particularly those that can’t be seen, and I hope by taking part I can help remove the stigma associated with these unseen disabilities. Aside from my work and study I am also an ANKC Dog Obedience Judge and am currently training to be a scent work judge.”
“I grew up on a farm in country NSW and moved to Canberra to study Psychology/Law at UC. My fondest memory of studying at UC is the life-long friends and mentors I’ve made. I’ve recently moved back to Canberra and transferred to the Legal category of the RAAF. I was glad to see that Oscar’s Cafe was still open on campus and I’ve enjoyed catching up over a cuppa at Oscar’s with the friends I made while studying. I chose to participate in the panel for IDPwD to demonstrate that disability has many faces.”
Josephine Julian (host/ panel facilitator)
“I am the UC SRC Vice-President, Media Officer and the Faculty of Arts and Design Representative. I am studying a Bachelor of Design (Visual Communications and Interaction Design). I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder just before I turned 18 and also live with anxiety. International Day of People with Disability is important to me because it is a day to celebrate the achievements of people with disabilities and to celebrate our differences and strengths. It is important to highlight disabilities in our UC community and celebrate.”
Click going on the Facebook event to stay up to date.