December 3, 2020

International Day of People with Disability

Today, Northern Health celebrates International Day of People with Disability, a celebration aimed at promoting awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with a disability.

Just a week before the International Day of People with Disability, Simone Ortiz became Northern Health’s new Disability Liaison Officer.

Simone has been with Northern Health for eight years as a social worker, and is now excited to start her new role.

“The Department of Health has identified that people with disability are sometimes struggling to access health care and, when the pandemic started, that increased. My role was created primarily to help those people with a disability, their carers or families access health care during the pandemic and after,” she explained.

In this role, Simone works closely with Northern Metro Disability Liaison Officers, to identify what the issues have been so far for people with disability when it comes to health care access.

“A number of my colleagues work in this role across different health services, and we are all working closely with the community to identify the barriers,” she said.

Chelsea Simpson, who chairs Northern Health’s Disability Working Group, explained the group’s role is to act and explore the issues that arise by staff and consumers, in relation to disability and access issues.

“It is also about having a broader strategic role in promoting awareness and inclusion for people with disability and actively working towards reducing barriers, for both staff and community members,” she said.

“The working group takes feedback from our consumer representatives in terms of issues and challenges they might be having when accessing our sites, and we work with them to improve that access,” she added.

Some of the things the group is working on are tangible things, such as ensuring we have sheltered car parks available for people who might need to transition from a vehicle to a wheelchair or similar.

“One of the major pieces of work is the implementation of the Northern Health Disability Action Plan, which focuses on promoting inclusion and reducing barriers for people with disability,” she added.

For Chelsea, International Day of People with Disability is about promoting the great value and contributions of both our staff and the consumers with disability, and promoting the needs of people with disability, ensuring we provide the best care possible.

“Today, I would really like to acknowledge all people with disability, whether they are Northern Health staff, community members or patients who visit our services and their achievements and contributions,” she added.

In her new role, Simone welcomes comments and suggestions from staff and the community. If you have a question, please email her here.

International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is a United Nations sanctioned day that is celebrated internationally on 3 December. It aims to promote public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.  

IDPwD represents a significant opportunity for Australian organisations to share their commitment, campaigns, leadership and stories of empowerment related to inclusion of people with disability in the workforce. 

Featured Image (left to right): Simone Ortiz and Chelsea Simpson