Health means more than just physical wellbeing—it is also related to our ability to function and participate in everyday community life. Problems with daily functioning and participation may be referred to as disabilities. Disabilities can be caused by a physical disease, trauma or any health condition. They can also be created by barriers in our society, such as negative attitudes around mental illness or inaccessible environments, like a workplace with no ramp for people who use wheelchairs. Disabilities may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible. 

People with disabilities can live active and fulfilling lives, and are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as anyone else. This includes having access to effective health care, being active in the community, maintaining relationships, and participating in work and study. In our society, people with disabilities have often been seen as not being able to do things like everyone else. This attitude can lead to people being excluded from community life, for example, living in institutions or receiving support that is segregated from the rest of the community. 

What is helpful for a person living with a disability will depend on their personal life goals. 

Things that help some people might include:

  • Advocacy - to promote rights and to prevent or address inequality or abuse
  • Physical aids and equipment - to support someone in participating in all things relating to day-to-day life, for example, communication, personal care and access to the community
  • Specialist support - such as therapies and rehabilitation, medication, support with learning, and education 
  • Peer support - people with similar experiences can be a source of helpful, mutual support
  • Community support - including support to study, work, build relationships, and take part in the community
  • Cultural connection - some people do not identify with having a disability, for example, people with hearing impairments may prefer to identify as belonging to a cultural group with its own language
  • Family support - families and friends often need support themselves in a range of areas, such as practical and emotional support, education and learning, self-care and respite support 

Click here for more information or, if you need to talk, call our Helpline.

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For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.