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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

From #StellasChallenge to TEDx Sydney Impact

People with disabilities continue to articulate their outrage at TEDx Sydney's #StellasChallenge (see this post from last week), to question the implementation of the initiative, and to stake a claim in its future:

What TedxSydney got wrong with #StellasChallenge
Jax Jacki Brown, Daily Life, 25th May 2015
... the wording of #Stellaschallenge seems to suggest that all she was advocating for was a change in attitudes. But if you have read Stella's work, or if you had known her as a friend, she made it clear, repeatedly, that she believed we deserved much more than an awareness campaign. 
Indeed, the act of "questioning what you think you know about disability" calls not so much for a literal inquiry of facts, but the dismantling of presumptions, stereotypes and misconceptions you may hold about people with disabilities, what our lives are like and even questioning the structures and institutions in society which have taught you to think that way. 
More importantly, it means questioning how we can address disability disadvantage and then actually implementing the changes that will improve our lives ...
... If the campaign isn't led by people with disability who understand what Stella's vision for an accessible and inclusive society really looked like, then it cannot be working towards the real inclusion and change Stella fought so hard for in her life ...

Doing justice to disability: the upside of TEDx’s Stella bungle
Gerard Goggin and Katie Ellis, The Conversation, 26th May 2015
We’ve made real progress in embracing disability as part of everyday life in Australia. But there’s a fair way to go, as the TEDx Sydney missed opportunity showed last week ...  
... Key to the disappointment and anger felt by many in response to #stellaschallenge is a palpable irony. TEDx Sydney calls for conversations – but doesn’t recognise that there are already many conversations, relationships, and media, attitudinal, and social transformations underway. So, rather than speaking, genuine listening is required – often the hardest thing to do. 
Fabulous as Stella’s TEDx talk is, it’s time to go beyond just resharing it. We need to really listen to it. We must acknowledge and support the many other voices of people with disabilities. 
TEDx Sydney should refocus its #Stellachallenge to offer media access, resources, and sorely needed distribution, so these voices can flourish, and be widely heard.
Click on the titles of each article to read them in full.

TEDx Sydney has responded quickly with a re-appraisal of their approach to consultation and inclusion, and by enlisting former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes:

Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes supports TEDxSydney Impact
TEDxSydney News, 26th May 2015
On 21 May, TEDxSydney launched Stella’s Challenge, a project designed to continue the great work of Stella Young, as brilliantly articulated in her TEDxSydney talk from 2014. 
We launched this project with the support of the Young family, and after consulting with organisations, and individuals with disabilities. Since then, we have received significant feedback from the disability community, which we have taken on board. 
After further discussion with the Young family, we have decided to remove Stella’s name from this project. The community is still grieving Stella’s tragic death, and we recognise that it is too soon to be using her name. We will rename this project in consultation with people with disabilities. 
We remain committed to realising our original goal of working with the disability community and our TEDxSydney community, to advocate around the areas of accessibility, social inclusion, and attitudinal change. 
We continue to believe that any initiative must be led by people with disabilities. We are inviting thoughts and feedback to this end. Please email us directly at by 5 June. After this time we will review all ideas and suggestions, and work together on a plan of action. 
Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes has agreed to join us in this process.

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