If you missed the “Belonging Matters Conference” in Melbourne, on the 16th & 17th August, 2017, we’d like to share some highlights with you. Just the name alone was enough for us to be inspired and our CEO attended for that reason! There were some inspiring themes and we have drawn them together to share with you! You see we hold the same beliefs as many that attended or spoke, and endeavour to lives our lives as examples of those beliefs. Hence our excitement to share!
Community is an important place
It’s where we learn, develop relationships, reach our potential and discover our moral compass. However, even though it’s automatically assumed for most people, society still excludes and marginalises people with a disability and others. What the presenters at this conference did was share developments, research and best of all, stories of thriving and inclusion.
I’m going to summarise 3 of the concepts shared over the day. They were inclusion, shifting mindsets and self actualisation.
1/ “Inclusion – it is so close you can touch it”
Everybody wants to be seen, heard and appreciated. Creating a culture of inclusion requires a shift and it was heartening to see the level to which it has begun! Ann Greer spoke about how respectful support and active listening paved the way for generating equal relationships. She talked of possibilities, creativity and people being cared for who were hungry for opportunities, and said that can’t happen easily in a prescriptive environment which tends to close down rather than open up. She shared her vision for treating people with disabilities as normal people and not template their lives … with “services” and rosters! She said “People don’t need to get fixed .. they need to self actualise!”
2/ Shifting Mindsets
We each have many intelligences, not just IQ. Yet our society has come to honour sport and academia, and does not afford interpersonal, intrapersonal, creative, spiritual or emotional intelligence the same level of regard! Dr Greg Phillips talked about “Cultural Safety”, and his learning from indigenous communities, particularly the way they are responsive to place, context, history, social, phenomena, languages, customs, spiritualty and religions. This is not the first time we have seen how cultures steeped in traditions can gift us all. How different would our health care system look if we merged the two, ie Western and Indigenous, and start building fresh Community Networks based on that.
More recent advances demonstrate how the challenges of people with disability have awoken in so many their multiple intelligence, beyond what they knew they had. Caregivers, parents and agencies have in that extended conscious space found gifts and talents they were not aware of and begun to create new possibilities. By stepping out to find new ways all involved find themselves able to achieve beyond what was thought possible in the past.
3/ Self Actualisation
“The realisation or fulfilment of one's talents and potentialities, especially considered as a drive or need present in everyone." This was spoken by several of the presenters and worth exploring in context for people with any level of disability. Ref taken from Huffington Post
Maslow describes the good life as one directed towards self-actualization or being all you can be. Self-actualization occurs when you maximize your potential, doing the best that you are capable of doing. There was evidence in many presentations of individuals being supported to step into this space.
More details about the presenters can be seen here