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Green Party MP Mojo Mathers hosted an event last week to discuss disability and barriers to employment.
The event was hosted by Victoria University Disability Services and the student run disability advocacy group CanDo, with the help of sign language interpreters and live transcribers.
Mathers talked at length of the barriers she had to overcome in order to gain employment. She talked about how she wanted to become a midwife, but as she is profoundly deaf was told she couldn’t.
She went on to discuss her experiences of working at parliament and the work she is doing advocating for practices that aid in the inclusion of people with disabilities into the workforce.
Through events like this, CanDo are hoping to raise awareness around the needs of people with disabilities. The chairperson of CanDo, Beth Noble, told Salient they were “pleased with the turnout and thought that Mojo’s talk was very informative and had some great advice for people with disabilities looking to get into employment.”
She went on to detail the importance of such events promoting disability awareness, saying “personally, I’ve found that most people who maybe make an offensive comment or are unhelpful are not doing so because of genuine malice, but more because they just don’t know what to do or say.”
“Increasing awareness helps everyone get along better and educates people. Given that at any point in time one in four in our population has some kind of disability we’re one of the largest minority groups, but also one of the least understood.”
CanDo are welcoming of any students who are supportive of their goals of support, visibility and recognition. Their aim is to provide a group environment that is both social and supportive of people with disabilities.
The group was formed 25 years ago after CanDo and VUWSA took Victoria University to the Human Rights Commission over their treatment of disabled students.
They plan to launch a disability awareness poster campaign after the mid-trimester break, aimed at educating about disability inclusion and etiquette, and are hoping to hold more social events in the future.