How much of our everyday life do we take for granted? My attention is drawn to a man sitting opposite in the train carriage.  His t-shirt reads, “#STAY TRUE BE YOU”. I’m faced with thinking about his cerebral palsy.

How does family, friends and community react to a disability? Do they accept, reject or ignore? Whether we like it or not a disability stigma exists in many communities and sometimes it’s easy to miss the intellectual, psychiatric or behavioural disorders.

Aside from physical disability, 90% of disabilities are in fact invisible.

In Australia 18.3% (4.3 million) have a disability. That’s almost one in five people in Australia and of the world’s population the stat is an overwhelming 15 percent.

Sadly people living with disability are more likely to experience low levels of education, live in poor-quality housing or experience poverty due to the limitations, restrictions or impairment.

Are you aware these people are under-represented in the workforce? Economics claim with increased participation, there can be wider social and economic benefits for the country. What’s more, research findings by the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) reveal a substantial accessibility gap in Disability Services for people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities (CALD).

Whilst researching this article I met Moustafa and it truly was enlightening to learn how he has navigated the accessibility gap.   Here’s what he told me:

“I have had cerebral palsy my entire life and growing up I relied on my parents a lot. At the age of 13, I was frail with weak muscles and experienced recurring spasms and cramps all over. I suffered low self-esteem and poor mental well-being mainly.  I believe I was bullied for having a disability and couldn’t defend myself. As well I was forced to face the doctors prognosis; I would require full-time home care by the age of 25.

Given my disability was significant, permanent and ongoing I enquired and applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  The funding I received helped me access disability support services as my goal was to be more active in community life, feel less isolated, more independent and contribute to the workforce.

With the help of my physiologist I began exercising and after some time I became physically stronger with improved mental well-being. I now train 4-5 times a week and am much fitter. My support carers help me with personal care and assistive technology items; like my new scooter, which provides the mobility I need to go wherever I want and do whatever I want. Through the NDIS, I also receive free speech therapy lessons to help improve my speech. This journey has been a great learning experience and has helped me recognize my strengths.”

Everyone has the right to live independently, make decisions for themselves and live life to the full. Today Moustafa’s parents do less for him as he is more confident, breaking down barriers and celebrating achievements.

Moustafa is a true inspiration!