1 December 2018 | Special Olympics Australia are calling on government and social leaders of Australia to Choose to Include people with intellectual disabilities this International Day of People with Disability.
International Day of People with Disability will be celebrated this year on Monday 3 December with a theme to empower persons with disabilities and ensure inclusiveness and equality.
Special Olympics Australia Chief Executive Officer Corene Strauss emphasized the importance of Australia recognizing and proactively acting upon the need to include people with intellectual disabilities in everyday life.
“With over 711,000 Australians living with an intellectual disability, they are the largest disability population in the country. In Australia, another child is diagnosed with an intellectual disability every two hours.
“People with intellectual disabilities are often excluded, misunderstood; face inequality, injustices and misdiagnosis. Opportunities for employment, education, health care, social engagement and other aspects of daily life that most people take for granted are routinely denied to people with intellectual disabilities.
“Australia can no longer afford to ignore people with intellectual disabilities. Governments and industry must get serious about including people with intellectual disabilities.
“Federal government needs to provide guidance, advice and information on including people with intellectual disabilities and increase funding for awareness of opportunities for those people to get active and improve their physical health.
“State governments need to advocate for inclusion and pilot physical activity programs in their schools. Industry need to close the gap between their talk about being inclusive and actually employing more people with intellectual disabilities.
“Our experience has been that by simply choosing to include people with intellectual disabilities, we are improving their lives. Choosing to include them in sport and physical activity programs profoundly affects their lives in positive ways, most notably in building self-confidence, friendships and self-esteem.
“The employability of Special Olympics Australia athletes demonstrates this. The national employment average for people with intellectual disabilities is around 35%. For athletes competing with Special Olympics Australia, that jumps to over 63%.
“People with intellectual disabilities are our teachers of tolerance. They have experienced intolerance, fear and exclusion because of ignorance for too long. They are the people best placed to shine a light on those behaviours in our workplaces and help make our society more inclusive.
“Australia must act now and become more proactive around understanding people with intellectual disability. There must be action and investment from the Boardroom table to the dining room table,” Corene Strauss said.