International day helps break down barriers for people with disability

AFL Inclusion Carnival.
AFL Inclusion Carnival.

He has won three Paralympic gold medals, climbed the Kokoda Track, completed 40 marathons and been part of the winning crew in the 2012 Sydney to Hobart yacht race - but Kurt Fearnley has never let disability get in the way of his successes.

And as the 2019 patron of International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), Kurt hopes to encourage Australians to take concrete action to help make change in the lives of people with disability.

"What I most want to achieve as this years' patron is for people to use IDPwD as a launching pad for further action," said Kurt, who is a proud husband and father, teacher, public speaker, an Officer of the Order of Australia, and was recently named New South Wales Australian of the Year for 2019.

"People with disability are entitled to the same respect, independence and choice as others.

"We need to talk honestly about the barriers in society that prevent this and work together to break them down.

"We have the same rights to employment, respect, independence and equality as everyone else.

"We all have a role to play in breaking down the barriers faced by people with disability.

GREAT PATRON: The Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said Kurt Fearnley was an outstanding choice as patron of IDPwD. Photo: Paralympics Australia

GREAT PATRON: The Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said Kurt Fearnley was an outstanding choice as patron of IDPwD. Photo: Paralympics Australia

"Sometimes that role may just be to listen to the voices of people with disability themselves."

Kurt said talking about disability in schools and educating kids about inclusion was important.

"Kids need to understand early that people with disability are impacted by barriers in society, like buildings without ramps, or people's assumptions about what they can or can't do," said Kurt.

"We don't need to be 'fixed' and are not a problem. Often it's society that needs to adapt. This year on IDPwD, we urge schools to get involved.

"On December 3, have a conversation about disability in the classroom, host an event and enter the schools competition."

The Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said Kurt Fearnley was an outstanding choice as this year's patron of IDPwD.

"Kurt has won more than 40 marathons, collected a swag of gold medals at the Commonwealth and Paralympic Games and completed the Kokoda Track - achievements most of us can only dream of doing," said Minister Ruston.

"He is one of Australia's greatest athletes and a passionate advocate for the rights of people with disability and for inclusion in all its forms."

To find out how to get involved visit the website www.idpwd.com.au

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