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Recognising Influential Australians in the Disability Realm and Their Game-Changing Impact

When it comes to disability advocacy in Australia, we can't help but stand in awe of some truly remarkable individuals who have dedicated their lives to championing the rights and well-being of people with disability. These influential figures in the disability realm have broken down stereotypes, shattered barriers, and tirelessly worked to bring about positive change in our society; which is what we're all about at Unisson. In this article, we want to give a big shout-out to these incredible Australians who have become trusted advisors, guiding us toward a future that's more inclusive and fair for all.

Stella Young: Empowering Perspectives and Inspiring Change

Let's kick things off with the one and only Stella Young. As a fearless Australian comedian, journalist, and disability rights activist, Young challenged societal norms and perceptions of disability. She rocked the stage as the editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "Ramp Up" website, where she highlighted articles, opinion pieces, and personal stories of people with disability. Young used her platform to create dialogue and understanding about disability related challenges in Australia.

Remember her incredible TED Talk, "I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much"? That talk went viral, reaching people around the globe. Young called out society's tendency to label people with disability as "inspirational" just because of their disability. She championed recognition for individual achievements and contributions instead. Young’s incredible spirit and advocacy continue to inspire transformative conversations about disability rights throughout Australia.

Photo by: Josie Hayden

Kurt Fearnley: Unleashing the Power of Resilience

Next up, we have the unstoppable Kurt Fearnley, legendary in the Paralympic world and a force to be reckoned with. This three time Paralympic gold medallist and two time Commonwealth Games gold medallist is an accomplished wheelchair racer. Fearnley has conquered prestigious international marathons, taking home multiple victories in the New York City, Chicago and London. Through his extraordinary sporting achievements, Fearnley has shattered misconceptions and shown the world the limitless capabilities of athletes with disability.

Fearnley’s impact doesn't stop there though. He's a fierce advocate for disability rights and accessibility. Using his platform and visibility, he raises awareness about the challenges faced by people with disability and fights for improved accessibility and inclusion. Fearnley has become a prominent voice, pushing for equal opportunities in education, employment, and public spaces for individuals with disability. In 2022, he was appointed as Chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency, which administers the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and will have a significant role in guiding the NDIS over the next few years.

Photo by: Jeff Crow

Rosemary Kayess: Pioneering Disability Rights

Let's give a round of applause to Rosemary Kayess, a true powerhouse in the field of disability rights. As an esteemed Australian human rights lawyer and disability rights advocate, Kayess has played a crucial role in shaping policies and legislation that promote inclusivity, accessibility, and equal opportunities for people with disability. Her research on disability rights, focusing on legal capacity, access to justice, and disability discrimination, has shed light on systemic barriers and challenges faced by individuals with disability.

With her profound contributions to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Kayess has been nothing short of monumental. She has influenced the convention's development and had a transformative impact on disability rights worldwide. Her expertise and dedication to this cause are second to none.

Photo by: Jacquie Manning

Carly Findlay: Elevating Inclusivity Through Dialogue

Now, let's talk about the incredible Carly Findlay, a gifted writer, speaker, and appearance activist who fearlessly challenges societal beauty standards. Findlay, with her visible skin condition, uses her influential voice to raise awareness about disability and chronic illness, fostering understanding and breaking down stereotypes.

Findlay is a prolific writer and blogger, sharing her personal experiences and insights on disability, chronic illness, and living with a visible difference. Her blog, aptly named "Carly Findlay: Writer, Speaker, Appearance Activist," is a treasure trove of educational content and stories that raise awareness about disability-related challenges.

Her impactful work has earned her numerous accolades, including being recognised as one of Australia's most influential women in the Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence Awards. Findlay's powerful storytelling empowers individuals to embrace diversity and fosters a more inclusive society.

Photo by: Kristoffer Paulsen

Dame Quentin Bryce: Guiding the Path to Inclusion

Last but definitely not least, we have the wise and graceful Dame Quentin Bryce, the 25th Governor-General of Australia (2008-2014). Bryce is a true champion of inclusivity and diversity, actively engaging with and advocating for various segments of Australian society, including people with disability.

During her tenure, Bryce used her influential position to raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with disability and the need for accessible and inclusive environments. She has been particularly passionate about promoting inclusive education, emphasising the importance of catering to the diverse needs of all students.

Even after her time as Governor-General, Bryce continues to lend her esteemed voice to various organisations and initiatives that promote the rights and well-being of Australians with disability. Her guidance and advocacy inspire others to follow the path of inclusivity and equity.

Photo by: Jamie Hanson

These influential figures in the Australian disability realm have left an indelible mark on society, guiding us toward a more inclusive future. With their unwavering dedication and impactful contributions, they have shattered barriers, empowered individuals with disability, and fostered a society that celebrates diversity. From Stella Young's trailblazing spirit to Kurt Fearnley's relentless pursuit of excellence, each of these influential figures have transformed the landscape of disability advocacy in Australia. As we navigate the path forward, their wisdom and guidance serve as a beacon, reminding us of the profound positive impact we can achieve by embracing inclusivity and working towards a society that values and supports everyone, regardless of ability.

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