Dignity for Disability

Freddie Brincat – d4d Presentation

Last night I was recovering from some dental work, and as the numbness subsided, I was caught between preparing my presentation today and selecting my three vinyl record tracks for a boys’ record gig at a friends place tonight. He has a vinyl record recording studio in his basement in the Adelaide Hills.

I knew I had two good speakers with me in James and Jessie, so I did the records first and the prep for today later in the night.

It’s important to have presentations from the people we support, so they can tell you/me how it is. I mean I could talk about what we do at length, or as a comparison, someone could tell you they can build a great building, or find and mine that gold and bring it to market, but the proof is in making it happen – and doing it well.

CBS Inc. was built on a strengths and interest based belief. I mean, let’s not focus on the negatives, let’s focus on the positives and through this the world can change. Our development has been a constant balance between our social purpose and values and our business focus. This is a constant challenge to keep getting it right. I would hope that this would be the same for all businesses in Australia including the audience today.

CBS Inc. is 20 years old this year. Back 20 years ago, I was pretty tired of hearing all the barriers and the negatives about people with a disability as this was mostly what was recorded about the people I enjoyed working with. This type of negative approach, that didn’t focus on people’s strengths, provided reasons for exclusion and stigmatism. Stigma and exclusion reduces access to quality teachers, mentors, infrastructure and businesses for employment and life experiences – this then further reduces the chances of success.

The good news is that this is changing for the better, so that now the skills and talents of people with a disability are coming through, as access to the best teachers and best resources and mentors is proving. This can be seen in the new exciting video clip about the Rio Paralympics – a celebration of difference. It is going viral on the internet.

I like to think that CBS Inc. and I are an important part – a link to turning things around. Most importantly, Kelly, Rick, Anna, Cathi and Team (including all of you who are supporters) are proving that people with a disability are now leading the way – as it should be.

This is why Kellys’ work is so important to the fabric of our community.

Take a moment to think about a couple of things for me please.

  1. We would agree that Stephen Hawking is one of, if not the greatest physicist that has ever lived to date. I wonder that if Stephen’s disability had developed at a much earlier age, whether he would have been offered the same opportunity to learn and succeed?
  2. Are the increasing opportunities for people with a disability to access the best coaches and teachers in sport and thus prove their talent (refer to the Rio Paralympics video), being offered to the same people in employment?
  3. Are people with a disability accessing jobs with our top businesses in Australia? Kelly is one person in Parliament in SA, Hewlett Packard is one top company that has seen the economic and social value that people with a disability provide in their workplace.
  4. So what’s stopping us?

Mary’s Story

So I want to end with a focus on a funeral I went to last week for a woman I met through my first 10 years working, supporting people with a disability.

Her name is Mary and she died at 64 – a person with a good heart and sense of humour. Her funeral memento was a book mark. What’s on it? – animals.
Let’s look at how things could change by using both the social and values measurement and the business and economic side I mentioned earlier.
The values and social side – No family attended the funeral and only a few friends. The majority were staff from State Govt. accommodation and CBS Inc. who really did care and enjoyed being with Mary – you could tell. Mary was left at two years of age to be cared for by the state.
I am expecting and hoping that this won’t happen today and that the NDIS, if it stays true to its values, will help prevent this.
From an economic argument – There could have been 15-20 years of employment that may have extended her life and created much more personal friendships, life experiences and the learning of many more skills.
This is the space that CBS Inc. fills, providing such important links.

Freddie Brincat OAM

Freddie Brincat at D4D presentation
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