Posts for the disability dept

Disabilities Officer – Week 5, Sem 1, 2019

Hayden Moon and Wilson Huang

Hello and a warm welcome from the Disabilities officers.

Support the mental health of students

During Welcome Week, we communicated with the NUS Disabilities Officer William Edwards about his No Mind Left Behind campaign. A disproportionate number of students experience psychological distress, and we are dismayed by campus counselling services. The University of Sydney gives students up to 6 counselling sessions per year. For many students needing long term support, this is not enough. We encourage everyone to sign a petition calling for reform in campus counselling services at www.megaphone.org.au/p/nmlb.

Accessibility at Redfern station

In October 2018, the USyd Disabilities Collective along with People with Disabilities Australia (PWDA) held a rally outside Redfern calling for more accessible public transport. We are pleased to announce that according to news from The Sydney Morning Herald, new lifts will be built increasing accessibility to Redfern Station. We continue to advocate for accessibility in public transport for all disabled people.

Disabilities space on campus

We would like a space on campus for students and staff with disability. Students with disability can be incredibly isolated especially when they don’t know others like them. We believe that having a disabilities space would be beneficial for the social inclusion, mental health and wellbeing of disabled students on campus. We have contacted the USU about finding a space and plan to follow up on it.

Intersectionality

During the beginning of the year, two of our collective members, Robin Eames (Disabilities officer 2018) and Hayden Moon (Disabilities officer 2019), presented at The Better Together Conference held by The Equality Project.

As members of SQuAD (Sydney Queer and Disability community group), Hayden and Robin did a great job of discussing the difficulties that come with being disabled and queer in 2019 and how far we still need to go in terms of equality. The Panel was called “Queer & Disabled: Intersections, inclusion, solidarity, community.”

Joining the Disabilities collective

As always we welcome new members into our collective who have disabilities including mental, chronic, or terminal illnesses; people who are neurodivergent; and people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, even if they don’t identify as disabled or as having a disability. Sign up at https://www.facebook.com/groups/USydDisabilities2018/.

Disabilities & Carers Officers Report – Week 7, Sem 2, 2018

Robin Eames, Mollie Gavin and Ren Rennie

Despite some technical mishaps, we are very glad and proud to report that the very first special disability issue of Honi Soit was a resounding success – as you will have noticed if you picked up a copy from the stands last week!

We’d like to extend our deep gratitude to everyone who was involved in making the very first Disabled Honi happen. It was a huge task and we couldn’t have done it without the talented students who offered their time and dedication to the edition. We think it’s so important to give disabled students space to develop art, literature, and journalism, and we’re delighted that Honi has provided this space.

Don’t forget that if you would like to join the closed Facebook groups for either the Disabilities Collective or the Caregivers Network, you can email the Disabilities OBs at disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au letting us know which group you would like to join, and we can send you an invite to the group by email. You do not have to disclose details of your disability or caregiving responsibilities in order to join.

The collective will be organising a protest against inaccessible transport at Redfern station sometime in October, and we will be hosting a screening of Defiant Lives later in the year. We will also be sending two students to the NUS Disability & Accessibility Conference at the end of September, hosted by Monash University.

Love & solidarity,
The 2018 Disabilities Collective Officebearers

Disabilities Officers Report – Week 2, Sem 2, 2018

Robin Eames, Mollie Galvin and Ren Rennie

In 1979, Joan Hume led a protest of wheelchair users and supportive allies at the opening of the inaccessible Eastern Suburbs Railway, the first of its kind in Australia. The premier who presided over the opening later said that the protest inspired him to introduce the first wheelchair accessible taxi service in Australia.

In the 1990s, Bronwyn Moye led a protest of Sydney wheelchair users who blocked off Broadway to protest bus inaccessibility.

In 2015, after years of campaigning and a petition with 10,000 signatures, ONE lift was installed at Redfern station. The other 10 platforms are still inaccessible.
Our buses and trains are only (partially) accessible because of the work of our activist forebears. The work isn’t done yet! 45% of Sydney’s train network is still inaccessible to wheelchair users. Much of our public transport infrastructure is designed in a way that is dangerous for people who are blind or have low vision, due to things like lack of audible announcements and haphazard placement of tactile paving.

We’re hoping to organise this semester around public transport inaccessibility in general and Redfern station inaccessibility in particular. If you’d like to get involved, keep an eye on our Facebook page (USyd SRC Disabilities Collective & Caregivers Network) and the Lift Redfern Station Campaign – Make Redfern Station Accessible Facebook page.

In brighter news, we’re delighted to announce that for the first time ever the Disabilities Collective will be producing an autonomous issue of Honi Soit. The issue will be released during Disability Inclusion Week (3-7 September). If you’d like to be involved in the editorial team, or you would like to write or create art for the issue, chuck us an email at disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au. We’ll be posting a Facebook event soon with a call for editors & contributors.

Love & solidarity,
The 2018 Disabilities Collective Officebearers
Robin Eames, Mollie Galvin, and Ren Rennie

SRC Disabilities & Carers Officer Report – Week 10, Sem 1 2018

Robin Eames, Mollie Galvin, and Ren Rennie

The Disabilities Collective and Caregivers Network would like to express our love and grief for the autistic victims of the Margaret River murders.

In the past five years, over 550 people with disabilities have been murdered by family members or caregivers. The numbers are likely far higher than what is reported publicly. Disabled people experience disproportionate levels of violence compared to the rest of the population. When disabled people are murdered by their parents, children, spouses, or caregivers, the media coverage often sympathises with the murderer rather than the victim. We are already seeing this pattern repeated in the coverage of the Margaret River shootings.

Disabled victims are framed as burdens and dehumanised. The media explains the murders as arising out of caregiver stress or the hardship or difficulty of having a disabled family member. This does a massive disservice to both disabled people and caregivers. The vast majority of caregivers are not violent, and would never see murder as a logical solution to a lack of provision of disability support services. From what we know, Katrina Miles was a loving mother who did not consider her children to be a burden.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has developed an anti-filicide resource, which may be viewed here: autisticadvocacy.org/projects/community/mourning/anti-filicide/, and a memorial with the names of the dead, here: disability-memorial.org/
On March 1st every year, disability communities around the world come together to mourn and speak the names of our dead. We will have more names to add to the list next year: Take, 13, Rylan, 11, Arye, 10, and Kadyn, 8.

Disabilities & Carers Officers – Week 3, Sem 1 2018

Robin Eames, Mollie Galvin and Ren Rennie

In 2018 the Disabilities & Carers Collective is splitting into the Disabilities Collective and the Caregivers Network.The Disabilities Collective is an autonomous collective for undergraduate students who have a disability, defined by the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities as “long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. This includes people with mental, chronic, or terminal illnesses; people who are neurodivergent; and people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing, even if they do not personally identify as disabled or as having a disability.

The Caregivers Network is an initiative for students who provide substantial informal caregiving support to friends or family members who are disabled.

We are hoping that this change will mean that disabled students and students with primary caregiving responsibilities are able to access supportive communities without conflating or neglecting the needs of either group.

We’re very excited for the upcoming year and we had a strong start at OWeek. We had shirts for sale for the first time ever (we still have a number of shirts for sale, so get in touch at disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au if you’d like to buy one!) as well as Auslan alphabet stickers and flyers. Currently we’re collaborating with the Disability Action Plan 2019-2024 working group, and looking to support the NSW Disability Advocacy Alliance’s “Stand By Me” campaign against cuts to disability advocacy funding. Wewill be hosting regular collective meetings throughout the year. We’re also hoping to host a non-autonomous screening of Defiant Lives sometime soon, so keep an eye on our Facebook page if you’re interested in attending!

Love & solidarity,
The 2018 Disabilities Collective Officebearers

Disabilities & Carers’ Officers’ Report – Week 3, Sem 1, 2017

NOA ZULman, MOLLIE Galvin and Hannah Makragelidis

The Disabilities and Carers Collective has been off to a strong and positive start in 2017. Prior to the beginning of the semester, we trialled a new method of holding collective meetings. We set up a Google Hangout, as a more accessible and flexible means for getting students with varying levels of mobility together. Save for a few technical difficulties in setting up video chat, it was a successful venture with eight people signing on to the chat! We had some important discussions around the direction of the Collective and some of the creative activist endeavours our members would like to undertake this year.

For the first time in the Collective’s history, we had a stall at O-Week which was a wonderful opportunity for Mollie, Hannah and I to meet many new faces and inform people about the important work that the SRC does and the crucial role the Collective plays in providing a social network and activist opportunities for students with disabilities and their carers. Despite the temperamental weather, O-Week was a great success and we signed up over thirty new members to our collective!
Last week Friday, we held our first social event of the year- a picnic on the lawns of Hermann’s. It was very successful, with over ten new members in attendance, and it was great to get to know such a wide variety of new students in a relaxed and informal environment. We enjoyed some delicious pizza and drinks, ending the first week of semester with gusto.

As Disabilities Officers this year, Mollie, Hannah and I aim to take a three-tiered approach to the Collective- with social inclusion, advocacy and activism as the core pillars of our engagement. Over the coming semester, we hope to host more collective meetings- both online and in person- and social events. Moreover, we have begun to establish a more positive relationship and communication with Disability Services and have begun a formal partnership with Carers Australia.
Overall, 2017 is shaping up to be a fantastic and active year for the Disabilities and Carers Collective!

Disability Awareness Week

This week was disability awareness week, often these type of events are overlooked due to elections that’s fine, but it went quite well. We’ve received dozens of new members in the collective as a result. As it was awareness week let’s talk about awareness. It’s not known by a lot of people but 9/10 females with a mental illness have been sexually assaulted. That’s an abominable statistic. More often then not you’ll find a lot of the perpetrators of this abuse are people who are in positions of power i.e. support workers, medical professionals etc. As a result, a campaign has emerged to improve service delivery to women with disabilities. This campaign is called ‘stop the violence.’ It’s important that these facts are known as more often then not we will find that disability isn’t always in the common verbal discourse when people talk about marginalised groups.

The collective has had a big week this week as was said earlier disability awareness week was on and there where a host of events and stalls on campus regarding disabilities. We also hosted drinks at hetmans and will continue to do so fortnightly as a means of creating a stronger collective that can live on in the forthcoming years.

There are a wide range of support networks available to students who identify as having a disability

There are a wide range of support networks available to students who identify as having a disability accessible by registering with the university’s Disability services. The purpose of this is to allow students to be given as much of an equal opportunity to access their course material and assessments tasks in  the best manner possible tailored to that students needs. Disability services makes your teaching staff aware of your needs whilst not disclosing your exact circumstances. If you are hesitant about registering with Disability Services and would like to seek independent advice in doing so, you can make an appointment to see a SRC Caseworker by calling 9660 5222 or visit the SRC at Wentworth Building Level 1 for a Drop-in visit on Tuesdays & Thursdays, between 1 and 3pm.
 
This collective provides an opportunity for students to share their lived experiences with one another and to identify and formulate plans for resolving issues within the university that affect students who identify as having carers ​responsibilities or being a person with a disability. Remember there are many kinds of disability, it is in fact the largest minority on the planet, more often then not however a lot of issues faced by people can go ignored and that’s why it’s important to get involved. By using ones lived experience to make people aware of the issues faced it is possible to move people from pondering mere abstract concepts to thinking about the real world that some of us negotiate each day. That’s why we are looking for members to help raise awareness about the diverse lives that we lead and how they are affected by our impairments and responsibilities. With such a wide range of impairments and responsibilities it is impossible for a few to speak for the many. So lets share our challenges and make them part of our success.  

If you want more information on the collective please e-mail us at 
disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au
 

Disabilities and Carers – Accessing Support and representation

If you are a student with a disability there are a huge range of supports that you can access by registering with the university’s Disability Services. It is not compulsory to disclose your personal circumstances to the university, however, by registering with Disability Services, you can avoid struggling needlessly with your condition whilst individually negotiating assessment protocols. Instead, Disability Services provides support through a formalised mechanism which maintains your privacy around your exact circumstances to your teaching staff while advocating for the necessary adjustments you are entitled to.  If you are considering registering with Disability Services or would like to seek independent advice in doing so, you can make an appointment to see an SRC Caseworker by calling 9660 5222 or visit the SRC at Wentworth Building Level 1 for a Drop-in visit on Tuesdays & Thursdays, between 1 and 3pm.
Carers

Our Access & Inclusion for Carers in Higher Education Campaign is continuing into semester 2 this year. When this campaign launched last year, we sought to raise awareness at the national level about the barriers that young and mature-aged students with significant caregiving responsibilities face in accessing and successfully completing an Australian university education. The campaign this year has focused on advocating for carers’ support in universities within NSW, particularly those in the Sydney area and above all Sydney University. With the recent launch of the NSW Carers Strategy 2014-2019, the support and transition of primary and high school student carers into higher education is a major objective, and will likely see numbers of young carers reaching university increase. For this reason, it is ever more important that universities are prepared and willing to support this valuable group in realising their full potential through education. We are particularly impressed with the momentum with which the University of Western Sydney is moving toward the implementation of meaningful support for their student carers.

Seeking Student Involvement

We have formed a Student Consultative Group and are encouraging students to get involved and give their input in the development and progress of the university’s current Disability Action Plan. The first meeting is coming up soon and will meet again in October. The Disabilities & Carers Department is also looking for students who are interested in helping plan some activities throughout the remainder of the semester. We are looking to hold some picnics in Victoria Park when the weather warms up, and also a gardening and art workshop so students can get together for some food and fun activities to encourage everyone to take the occasional break from their studies when assessments kick in. If you would like to get involved in any of these activities, send us an email at disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

Help for Students with a Disability & Student Carers

Did you know the university has a service to assist students with a disability to access reasonable adjustments in managing their studies?
Disability Services works closely with the university’s administration and faculties to support students with a disability whether it be physical, sensory, intellectual or  psychological. If you find that your health is causing problems with your studies in an on-going way or that you are repeatedly applying for Special Consideration for your condition, Disability Services may be able to help you.
Check out their website to see if you are eligible and how to register: sydney.edu.au/stuserv/disability/

Disability Services are located within Student Support Services – Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building (G02), City Rd, Darlington Campus.
Are you a carer of someone with a disability?

The SRC Disabilities & Carers Collective meets regularly to provide student carers with information and support, and to lobby the university for carer rights. Anyone is welcome to meetings and you can follow their Facebook page “USYDdisabilities.carers”. Alternatively you can check out their webpage: srcusyd.net.au/disabilitiesandcarers  or email them at: disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Do you need special consideration?

Special consideration is different to a disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to your disability, this should be accommodated by you disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to an unexpected exacerbation of an existing condition, or an illness or misadventure that has nothing to do with your disability you are able to ask for special consideration. As with all Special Consideration requests, make sure you get a specific additional Professional Practitioner’s Certificate on the day of your assessment to show how severely affected you were, and how you were affected, eg, unable to do exam or attend a lab.