Having their say at the 2020 VALID conference

In February, OC Connections (OCC) participants, Aidan, Ben, Bernadette, Colin and Richard took part in the Having a Say Conference, held at the Deakin University, Waterfront Campus in Geelong.

Tina, OCC Disability Educator, instigated the group’s participation at the conference. Some of the group were attending the Having a Say conference for a second time, having also presented in 2019. Bernadette made her debut appearance. However, it was not the first public speaking appearance for Bernadette who presented at the OC Connections AGM last October.

The group travelled by bus to Geelong with Tina and Samira, a Disability Support Worker from OCC, armed with PowerPoint presentations, written speeches and a short video.

Aidan, Ben and Bernadette had put their hands up to present at the conference and were very excited to give their speeches at the session called Individual Stories – “Our Achievements”.  Richard and Colin were enthusiastic supporters.

At the morning session, the three participants spoke like consummate professionals. They were delighted to hear that an audience member praised the group’s exciting and confident presentation.

After a relaxed lunch at Deakin University’s Common Waterfront café and some time to see the different information stalls, it was back to the minibus for the return trip to OCC.

Tina said, “The OCC participants not only enjoyed being part of the conference but they grew as individuals.  They have improved their presentation skills from last year and developed their confidence and independence.”

What the OCC participants thought about the day:

Aidan – “I liked giving my presentation. I was happy with my speech. We saw John from Valid.”

Ben – “I liked going to Geelong and giving my speech. It was good to listen to other people.”

Bernadette – “I enjoyed doing my speech and looking at the stalls, especially Club Mates.”

Colin – “I enjoyed the atmosphere.  It would be good for those who haven’t been before.”

About VALID and the Having a Say Conference

VALID is a not for profit organisation run by people with disabilities and family members.

Having a Say conference is Australia’s largest conference for people with disabilities and helps people to find their voice, to speak up, to be heard and to be respected.

Having a Say is the conference where people listen to each other, where people respect each other’s views and opinions and celebrate their common cause.

Having a Say Conference aims to empower people with disability through:

• The opportunity to “have a say” about issues that affect their lives

• Participation in an annual conference in a regional location of Victoria

• Opportunities to celebrate ability and achievement

• Opportunities to be heard by politicians, government and service providers