As some of you know, I am on the Committee of the "Having a
Say" conference in Geelong, which is has been put on for the last nine years by
VALID (The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability Inc.)
VALID is the peak advocacy body in Victoria for people with
intellectual disabilities and has been putting on "Having A Say" for nine years
now; next year will be its tenth anniversary. The conference started out
travelling to regional towns in the State, but for the last four years has found
a home in Geelong, Victoria's 2nd largest city, owing to growing by about one
hundred and five delegates a year - this year it attracted over 1,000 people
from all over Australia, and even New Zealand and Canada, I think.
"Having A Say", I heard it said, was touted by an
overseas guest speaker to be pretty unique as far as
Conferences go. It has numerous "Come and Try" activities (two per
person per conference); it has workshops on various aspects of
self-advocacy (a lot of them given by self-advocates themselves); it has a champions' steam, open to anybody, but more
about changing attitudes and policy of and in governments
and power brokers.
Which brings me to my point. The 2009 conference is
going to be a big celebration. It is VALID's 20th birthday as well as
being its 10th birth day. And so... we want to
attract a high calibre guest speaker, maybe from overseas, who is on Sabbatical,
for our plenary session.
[This year we were lucky enough to be given the money to pay
for Simon Duffy, originator of "In control", the UK agency revolutionizing the
welfare system there by giving people their own funding and letting
them choose he method/s of care most applicable
to themselves. (Of course, there are several levels built
in to this system, so people are not left floundering, but it
works, apparently!) So... if you don't like
the food your support workers cook, you can use your
funding to buy outside catering; if you don't want
an disability agency to handle your funding and you haven't
got the skills to do it yourself, why, you employ a
But we might not be so lucky next year.
So please, if you know a disability academic, or if you are one, that
is going to be in Australia in early Feb. next year, and you
may be interested in our conference, let me know. It will be
a worthwhile experience and we will be very grateful.
Oh yes, and by the way, the conference itself is held at
Deakin University's woolstores' campus,
just next-door to our beautiful waterfront. And
if it's nice summer weather the ambiance is glorious!
Jai Guru Dev, :-)
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