“I can speak for myself, I do have a voice and I can say yes or no without being afraid.” This is the story about a group of friends who meet monthly and support each other to be the best versions of themselves.
The Self Advocacy group that is facilitated with the help of the Disability Trust has been running for over two decades. There are members that have been attending the group since its early days and welcomed new members that have come along recently.
“We like to meet new people and like to teach them about speaking up” Robert Lewis explains that he has been able to make some big changes which have benefited his health in the last year which were supported by the group members at Self- Ad. “The group gave me the skills to change my current job role which was causing me a lot of stress. I now work outside, which has been really good for my mental and physical health.”
Amy Johnson tells of the positive influence that Self-Advocacy and the members have had on her. “Before joining the group, I wasn’t very social. I only went to work at supported employment and back home again. I was scared of meeting new people and didn’t have much of a voice. I didn’t talk to anyone, except a few people at work. I have been able to learn new skills and a safe environment and even travel interstate to Conferences where I have met other people who have inspired me.”
On talking with another member, Andrew Radford stated “We stand up for our rights at work and in the community.” Andrew is very passionate about self-advocacy. He travels from Batemans Bay to Wollongong each month to attend the group. Andrew recently had an opportunity to share his story at the ‘Valid Conference 2019’ in Geelong. “I was so excited, it was awesome. I have learnt so much, it’s been very positive for me. I have got more confidence since joining the group.” In June this year, Andrew has been accepted to go to a Conference for People with Autism in Singapore and share his life story. “My voice and my story is being listened to and that’s important to me.” Andrew plans to make the trip part business and part leisure, as he is keen to network with other Self-Advocates when he is in Singapore and invite them to our Wollongong Disability Trust Conference in October.
As a group, we feel it’s key that everyone has a right to have a say in decisions that affect them; everyone has the right to choice and control of their own life; and everyone deserves respect.
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