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Speaking up for others

Michael is Chair of NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, on the NDIA Intellectual Disability Reference Group, a member of an Australia wide advocacy group OUR VOICE, and has recently been appointed the University of New South Wales Ambassador for Healthy Aging.

He is a staunch self-advocate, wonderfully articulate, an excellent role model and an ambassador for giving people with Down syndrome a voice.

Here's what Michael says about speaking up:

My work as a self-advocate

Speaking up for other people makes me feel good, it is an honour and a privilege to meet Ministers and people in government and speak up for others. In an ideal world there should be more people with disability talking to government, for example the NDIA.

Speaking up in your life and your community

Speaking up can be daunting so it is good to have support and experienced advocates for back up. But advocates and support people need to know when to back off and let people with disability go forward. It is very important for people with Down syndrome to have a voice in all parts of their life and in their community.
Everyone has an inner voice, people know what they want, they know what is right and that needs to come out. Once it comes out you can’t stop us, it just comes naturally, that’s how it was for me and now look at me!

If people haven’t ever had a voice they are going to need help and support. You need someone to help you speak up – advocates, family, friends and role models, other people with disability doing this stuff.

How to help people speak up

You need to gain information, find out what’s out there to help you develop these skills. You can contact your local advocacy service or check out My Choice Matters. You need to gain skills and confidence and have an understanding of self-importance.

If people don’t listen to you it can be a real disappointment. If this happens I encourage you to keep going, keep talking, sooner or later they will listen it may just not happen overnight. Do not give up.

Michael's story is part of Down Syndrome Autstralia's 21 stories over 21 days profiling people with Down Syndrome and how they are involved in their communities. If you missed the stories during March they are available on the website.