Closing the Disability Divide: Health Students Gain Valuable Insights from Latest Go Rural Virtually Online Event

14 April 2023

Grv Disability Wrap Up Blog Image

Go Rural Virtually (GRV) offers health students a virtual opportunity to engage and connect with healthcare professionals and rural community members. They can gain insights into their daily lives, as well as learn about current issues affecting healthcare.

On Tuesday, 28 March, our latest GRV provided health students with the opportunity to engage with individuals who have lived experiences with disability. Our speakers shared their personal experiences and viewpoints on navigating life with a disability, and how we can all work together at closing the disability divide.

Guest speakers included Dr Dinesh Palipana, a passionate advocate and researcher in spinal cord injury after his own motor vehicle accident, and Leanne Kohler, from Longreach, who has experienced challenges accessing essential services in a rural setting for her son who has Down Syndrome. Through her interpreters, Naida Taraskinski, who was born deaf, detailed her experience of growing up in a rural town with limited support for deaf children. Naida explained, ‘I can really connect with other people that are deaf or have a disability, as we have something in common. I know what it’s like to not have family to not even communicate (with you) which is really frustrating.’

Some key takeaways from the event included:

  • 1 in 5 Australians identify as having a disability.

  • Having a diverse range of people, including those with disabilities, working in the medical profession can provide a different perspective and a sense of familiarity/commonality for colleagues.

  • By helping one person, you may not change the world, but you’ll change the world for them!

  • It is important to understand the differences in disabilities, some are visual, while others are hidden. 

  • People with disabilities should be treated as individuals first, they are not solely defined by their disability.

  • Importance of having more health professionals in rural areas so people with disabilities have access to the care and services they require without having to travel to the city. 

This unique event provided real-world perspectives on the challenges faced by people with disabilities, their families, and communities, whilst empowering students with various tools and knowledge on how to provide care that is respectful and effective.

We thank all speakers and students for contributing to this online experience, and hope that those who attended found this discussion inspiring and supportive.

If you missed the live event, you can view the recording below.

Keep up to date with all of our events via our website and be part of our virtual community, connect with peers, expand your professional network, and be inspired.

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