Having a Say in Geelong

Five self-advocates from Minda have just returned from the 20th annual Having a Say Conference held in Geelong.

Well done to Tony, Timon, Erin, Natalie and Chris, who travelled to Geelong with two of our Developmental Educators, Alicia and Mel.

The annual Having a Say Conference, organised by VALID, is Australia’s largest conference for people with disability, and is held at Deakin University.

This year was Having a Say’s 20th anniversary and the theme was ‘Having a Say Forever!’ The conference aims to empower people with disability to: have a say about issues that affect their lives, participate and attend a conference, celebrate ability and achievement, be heard, meet new people from around Australia and share ideas, stories and experiences.

Monday 4 February was the first day of the conference and everyone headed to the opening ceremony in the morning.

“In the afternoon, some of us attended a talk on the ‘ABC’s of Advocacy’, while others participated in come and try activities.

We also spent part of the afternoon looking through the different stalls at the expo. In the evening, we went to the Sphinx Hotel for dinner and to watch the auditions for this year’s Red Faces competition,” Alicia says.

“On Tuesday, we all enjoyed a cooked breakfast before heading back to the conference for come and try activities and more presentations and performances. We ended the last night of the trip with the dinner disco at the Pier, which was themed ‘roaring 20s’.”

Tony says his favourite part of the trip was the disco – “it was a lot of fun” – and he also enjoyed meeting people and making new friends.

Erin enjoyed the Harley ride, her first time on a motorbike! She also enjoyed one of the presentations on advocacy, with people sharing stories and experiences of how they have advocated for themselves. Erin said the trip was a good experience and that she would like to go again.

Timon enjoyed bush walking, which was one of the ‘come and try’ activities. He went on a 3.5km walk and explored the bushland around Geelong. Timon also enjoyed catching up with his girlfriend who lives in Geelong.

Natalie enjoyed her two ‘come and try’ activities: badge making and hair and makeup. Natalie made three badges and got her hair and makeup done for the dinner and disco. Natalie also enjoyed seeing different bands and performances such as ‘telling our stories through hip hop’ which is a unique way of having a say. Natalie said it was a good group of people and she enjoyed sharing an apartment with Erin.

Chris has attended the conference many times. He said he enjoyed spending time with friends and going to the dinner and disco – even having a dance on the dance floor. He also enjoyed seeing the different talents at Red Faces.