International Day of People with Disabilities 2022: Brighter Futures

Video transcript

Hi. I’m Karni Liddell.

I’m a former Paralympian.

They always say there’s no such thing
so I should say I’m a Paralympian.

I’m a mother to a five year old boy called Kai.

I’m a social worker.

I sit on the Premier’s Domestic and Family
Violence Council, and I’m very proud

to be an advocate and activist
for my brothers and sisters with disabilities.

On 3rd of December, we celebrate
International Day of People with Disabilities.

So happy International Day of People
with Disabilities.

This year, CBM Australia will mark the day
by focusing on children

with disabilities in developing countries
and making sure that their start in life

helps them thrive and flourish.

There are around 107.5 million

children and disabilities
in the Indo-Pacific region.

They represent 45% of the world’s children
with disabilities.

These children face many challenges,
including access

to education, access
to health care and discrimination.

CBM is calling
for greater investment in these children.

These issues are very close to my heart.

I want to share a story about my own
education, childhood, and how important it is

to prioritise
the needs of children with disabilities.

I was born with my disability.

I have a muscle wasting disease,
and my darling parents were told when I was born

that their first born child would not
walk, would not crawl,

and would not live past her teenage years.

They were also told, whatever you do, don’t

do any form of exercise
or rehabilitation with her.

Make her as comfortable as possible
and put her into a home.

I’m very fortunate that I believe
that the only reason I’m here today,

happy, walking –

I need this thing for, like, parking – and healthy

and working
is because I had an amazing family around me.

I guess for myself,
I didn’t really understand that I had a disability

until I was about 14 years of age,
which is interesting because that was

when I broke my first world record at 50 metres

And the reason I discovered

that I was disabled at the age of 14
when I came back to Rockhampton where I was born,

is that all of a sudden my school

and my community were all worried
about public liability

or Occupational Health and Safety
or what I call ‘risk’

and the most disabling thing for me, I believe,

is this misconception
that I’m the riskiest person in this room

to support, serve and employ.

So at the age of 14,
I was told I could no longer play sport at school.

I could no longer walk up the stairs.

I could no longer do anything physical anymore.

And from there,
that’s really been my fight until the age of 43.

And most of us people with disabilities
in Australia live on fight mode, fighting to do

the basics, fighting for funding, fighting to fly,

fighting to get on a ride at a theme park

and those things are very easy to fix

because that just means, of course
changing attitudes.

I have travelled the world and I’ve certainly been
to many developing countries

and I sit here in a $35,000 wheelchair.

My car has a $10,000 hoist in the back of it,
which lifts my wheelchair into the car.

If you take that away from me,
you take away my complete independence.

I also have support workers now through the NDIS.

Before that, five years ago, I didn’t have that.

I did everything myself,

very difficultly.

My ageing parents had to pay for everything,
do everything, pay for the wheelchairs,

help me and it was a really,
really challenging life.

And the only reason I can actually be a working
single mother

today is because I have funding

for the equipment and support
I need to get out the front door of my apartment.

Unfortunately, when I open that front door,

we need the community to open up their doors
because we are the most unemployed group

in this country.

But we’re not here to talk about Australia today,
we’re here to talk to two very accomplished,

impressive humans who are making a name
for themselves in their own countries

by advocating for the needs of people
with disabilities.

And I know that I often say I can’t
wait for the day that I can retire from

being an advocate or an activist, which means that

we all have the same rights as everybody else.

Maselina Iuta is a 25 year
old disability advocate from Samoa.

She works for the Deaf Association of Samoa
and is passionate

about climate change and disaster risk education.

Welcome, Maselina.

Beia Temango

is a 26 year old disability
advocate from Kiribati.

I’m actually going to get him to say his name.

He works for the Kiribati Association of People
who are blind or vision impaired

and he is passionate about inclusive education
as we all are.

Thank you both for talking with me today
and travelling all the way here.

I’m excited to have this opportunity
to find out more about your work

and of course, what happens in your country
with people with disabilities.

I’m really interested in your own childhood
experiences, it’s

probably the social worker in me,
we always start with the childhoods.

So tell me, Maselina, what was it like

for you growing up in Samoa with a disability?

Thank you so much for the opportunity.

I will share my experience today.

I would

like to talk about my experience
when I was a child.

When I was four years old,
I started to go to school

and by that time there’s no accessibility for me.

There’s no interpreter.

I only had my friends around me
and I always ask for help in sign language

and they have no idea how to communicate.

So most of the time I feel neglected, I feel sad.

And I

started become focusing on school

without interpreters

and my teacher was trying to teach me verbal
and it’s really hard.

It’s very difficult for me, most of the time
I don’t understand and I’m trying to ask them

to use sign language, but they always say,
no, I need to learn how to speak.

So when I call home my grandmother, I’m

trying to teach me
how to speak and how to communicate. So

when I go everywhere

I can be able to, to speak.

My grades in school is not good.

I always fail most of my childhood education.

And when I started to meet

sign language, deaf in 2012,

that is the first time that I saw
and it’s given me courage

that I have found the support for me.

Beia, I’m going to get you to say
your entire name, because I am from a place

that you probably never heard of,
just like I hadn’t

actually heard of your country,
which I apologise for.

I’m from a place called Rockhampton,

which is the beef capital of Australia,
so I’ve got a very Australian accent.

So would you mind to saying your full name?

My name is Beia

and my father’s name is Temango.


And your story is a little bit different because
you weren’t born with your disability, were you?

In 2014 when I was 12 years old

and I’ve got blind, I’m called blindness.

I feel a really difference because when I’m,

I had normal vision
and I, I can access everywhere.

When I walk once to school, I can access properly,

when I want to sport, can I sport independently.

But when I have a disability

in 2014 and everything that I already, already

did, I have very difference because

when I want to sport, I can’t access to sport.

When I want to,

in school, I can’t access the school

because no equipment that I want

I can use to

in mainstreaming.

So I talked a little bit before at the beginning
about the label

of being ‘the riskiest person’ everywhere I go,

disables me more than my own disability.

Let’s talk about the stigma and the labels
that are attached to you

in your country, in Samoa.

That is most, that is one of the most challenged

that we face is the discriminate
and stigma of children

with disability
and is that it all started from families.

Children can’t access to education
and they can’t support them

and encourage them so they can become

confidence and able

to be in school.

So we really want

to teach our people with disability

to become, encourage them to become brave

and be able to go and be

as the same as other people without disability.

And I also feel like there’s

a lot of work that we need to do with our families

and people that are around us,
that the people with disabilities need us there.

So they have the same rights as others.

They need to teach them to be accepted

and I believe that is something
that we can do to stop that.

Here in Australia,

people with disabilities
are the most unemployed group in the country

and Australia is one of the worst countries
in the Western world

for employment of people with a disability.

Is that the case in your country?

Yes. Yes, it is the same.

There’s a few opportunities for employment.

Sometimes there’s lack of support.

It is experience for me to know
that is not only us

and it give us the courage to keep advocate.

Keep advocate for the support,

support for people with disabilities
to make sure they have the equal rights

for access in employment.

Some people seeing that it’s hard

and some people think it is easy.

So it is something
that we have to think about that we can do it

and encourage and advocate

the government for more employment opportunities.


just recently I was flooded

in Brisbane and I lost everything in the floods

and I discovered that

obviously in a flood,
I lost my wheelchair, my accessible electric bed

and I found that people with disabilities
were very left out of the flood recovery services

because we couldn’t get accommodation
that was accessible, I couldn’t get a wheelchair

because there was no wheelchairs around,
there was six months wait for wheelchairs.

In regards to where you live,
how are people with disabilities supported

when a disaster like a cyclone or a tsunami
or in my case a flood happens?

In our country, there is a,

a Met office is looking for that emergency

Yeah, it’s like a strong wind,

rains and every emergency warning.

And in the bus when they

they did announcement to the public

to prepare themselves before the,

the strong wind coming

and they already forgot about persons
with disabilities.

Especially persons, deaf persons,

because when they did the announcement

through the radio and all deaf persons can’t hear

that announcement only persons that can hear,

can receive that information, access
to information

about the emergency warning.

But they forgot about persons with disabilities.

This is in the past.

But now, after that,

we advocate and we advocate to the government.

And they for now,
when they did the announcements to the public

to prepare themselves before the the big waves

or the strong wind, and they, they

did in every social media,

because they include the needs of

deaf persons

and especially blind persons for,
they can access the information

about the emergency warning

and they, for now these are very,

we can access the information,

deaf persons can receive

information from the Met office to provide,

to prepare themselves for the, that emergency.

And we are, we have food are accessible

and we can, we can

access the information from

after we advocate to the government.

Maselina, what about in your country
when it comes to subtitles and interpreters,

with disasters?


it is the same experience.

Like before, we don’t have the opportunity

for our preparation for disaster risk.

But at the moment we have

access in

educating our people of disability,
in preparedness of disaster,

because before there’s no access in information
and sometimes they use subtitles, but

deaf people can’t read

and they always rely on their families

to give them gestures
about preparedness for any disaster.

So there’s little information they get from that.

And one of the biggest achievements that we have

is the opportunity
for us to provide for people with disabilities.

And we able to educate them and ask them

and give them the support that they need, like

the interpreters on TV and on videos as well.

And also our advocacy organisation back

there have representatives in disaster

risk management chairs.

So there’s a person with disability who’s
able to give advice to the government

for make sure that they are include people
with disability in whatever they do

like in planning, what they do after the disaster

and this is a great opportunity for us, as Beia

said that before, it’s

the people who are deaf is the most

vulnerable people because they can’t hear

and they have little understanding in disaster.

That is one of the reason that I am happy

to sit in this.

I have this opportunity
so I can advocate more to make sure that

information and all the resources that they need

for the support of people with disability

have the understand and have the resources

and make sure that governments
are able to support their needs.

And the most important thing is
have them consulted

because we believe in that mandate:

that nothing about us without us.

We love to see more disabled

people sitting at the table

asking them what they really wants to get out

from that discussion,
what they really need to support them with

when it comes to this

vulnerable group that we are.

That’s right.

And also, that’s a great way to employ people
with disabilities,

isn’t it, by having us at the table.

So it is International Day of People
with a Disability.

If I could give you a magic wand

right now, what’s your

biggest wish for your brothers and sisters

with disabilities in your country?

I think my biggest wish is more collaboration,

more collaboration with the government,

our international partners

and able to network with our People
with Disability organisation

so that we can share our ideas and able

to learn from our small island countries.

And, yeah, that we are able

to, after this meeting, we are able to

bring our experience, our ideas back,

especially in our development countries.

Beia, what would be your big wish?

Magic wand, you can give me more than one,

for this International Day of People
with Disability, for your country.


I want to

to make more advocacy to the government,

to make sure all, all

public places

are accessible for persons with disabilities

and also with the terminal.


accessible places for persons with disabilities
when they need,

when they access to

the airport and they can fully accessible.

Especially in education, we are,

I want to, to make my advocacy to the government

to improve and to be

of support more,

more support for the,
through the Ministry of Education.

So for that to all mainstream
that are provided there

and we want to asking for the governments

to support, to provide more equipment

for persons or for students
with disabilities around the country.

There is so much to be done
to ensure a better future

for children with disabilities
and also us adults in the Pacific.

It’s been wonderful to be able to talk to you
today and learn about your childhood,

your experiences and your passion
for making the world a better place.

I want to thank you as a fellow advocate
and as a person with a disability,

because even in this country,

aren’t actually fully inclusive or accessible.

So it’s really important for Australians
to know that.

But it’s also important to Australians
to know that we can also help

other people in other countries
that are only getting $4,000

and also unable to access interpreter services,

just to be able to do the basic
which is communicate with others and connect.

Thank you so much for your time today
and everything you’ve done for us.