December 2, 2022

International Day of People with Disability: The Story of Anaab Rooble

3 December, is International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD) – a day aimed at increasing public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.

This year’s UN theme is “Transformative solutions for inclusive development: the role of innovation in fuelling an accessible and equitable world”.

There are many different types of disability. A disability may affect mobility, ability to learn things, or ability to communicate easily. Some people may have more than one (body and mind impairment). Disabilities may be visible or hidden, temporary or permanent and may have minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities to do certain activities and interact with the world around them.

Today, we share the story of Anaab Rooble, a consumer at Northern Health, and a busy woman making a difference.

Anaab arrived in Australia in 1998.

She is a mother of three primary school children and holds a Bachelor of Accounting and a Masters in Human Resources. She has almost 20 years of experience working in the public sector. She is also the Treasurer and Board Director of Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV).

When Anaab was a toddler, a medical mishap impaired her right leg. Unable to access prosthetics or orthotics in Somalia, she crawled until she was seven years of age.

She explained that even in Australia, every single day refugees with disabilities face barriers in accessing education, healthcare and employment.

“In general, women need to break the glass ceiling but when you add other diverse layers, such as refugees, migrants, persons of colour, and disability, the glass gets thicker,” Anaab said.

“I faced many obstacles, but belonging to a society that had no respect for disabled people was the hardest, due to the stigma, attitude and ableism associated with disability. Nonetheless, I take pride in my disability and I see it as a blessing and not a burden. It is part of my intersectional identity and would not trade it for the world!”

When asked what changes she would like to see in future for people with disabilities, Anaab said, “We all have a role to play in challenging bias as it can lead to stereotyping and discrimination, which then results in limited access to opportunities and poorer societal outcomes.”

“We need to work towards expanding employment pathways for people with disabilities through alternative channels, fostering an all-inclusive workplace culture and implementing positive recruitment initiatives and practices.”

Anaab was recently featured on ABC News. Click here to read the full story.

Since 2020, Northern Health has two dedicated Disability Liaison Officers (DLO), who provide support to people with disability, their families and carers.

“We are happy to support any person with disability. Please reach out to us at so we can ensure your hospital stay is as patient-centred as you need it to be. The program is within every Victorian hospital and together we are working on better service improvements for people with disability,” says Simone Ortiz, DLO.

This also includes equitable access for those with disability from LGBTIQ, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and from a CALD background.

Our Disability Awareness and Communication Access training is ongoing and it is available on the Northern Health’s Learning Management System (LMS ‘Find Learning’ page).

Chelsea Simpson, Chair of the Northern Health Disability Sub-Committee, says, “Today, we acknowledge the contributions of our staff and consumer representatives with a disability. We also thank our consumer representatives for their leadership and participation in planning for our future services and facilities.”

Northern Health is currently developing a new Disability Action Plan (DAP) 2023-2026 to better understand the needs of the community.