People with a disability need to have a say. We need to be heard about the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We need to be heard about changes to the Disability Support Pension. One way to be heard is by the use of advocates. But their advocacy needs to be effective. To ensure it is effective, advocates and people with disabilities should meet and exchange ideas. Such a meeting is happening in Melbourne on 4 August. The meeting is called the Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference, Champions of Change.
How are people who are blind able to dance? The Victorian Blind Square Dancing group might have the answer. Those who can't see are taught to dance by feeling how others move. They are also told the moves to make. Dancers call to each other to let others know where they are. A caller announces moves through loudspeakers. Sometimes dancers may run into each other. It is not always easy for someone who is blind to turn back to just the right spot. The dancers enjoy each other's company and find the dancing good exercise.
I went to Strumarama. It is a live music show. The performers have emotional and mental health issues. They have all taken part in song writing classes. The classes are run in South Melbourne, Heidelberg and Drouin. The show is put together by Wild@heART Community Arts. The performers sang about love, hurt and their own mental health. Many people went to the show. The audience and the singers had fun. The next Strumarama show is in December.
It can sometimes take a lot of planning to find where you can go out when you have a disability. But a new tool will now make this planning easier. It is a free app called Out & About. It can be used on an iPhone or iPad. Out & About finds accessible venues and events in Melbourne for people with a disability. It lists accessible places such as parks, beaches, restaurants and cafes. You can review and rate the accessibility of the places you visit. You can also add accessible venues. The app is by Villa Maria.
Beyond tolerance: Disability, Advocacy and the Arts
Earlier this year, former Minister for the Arts Simon Crean annoyed disability advocates by encouraging a culture of tolerance towards artists with disabilities. As a result, Arts Access Victoria organised a forum to discuss moving beyond tolerance. Artists and representatives from arts organisations attended the forum. Many ideas were raised. These included issues of access, opportunity and funding. Several speakers thought more diverse representation on funding bodies would cause cultural change. The forum did not solve any problems. But the people who attended it will still find ways to make art accessible and meaningful.