Shepparton acknowledged and celebrated its disabled community yesterday at an International Day of People with a Disability event.
The United Nations-sanctioned day is celebrated across the world and was introduced as a way to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.
Hosted by Greater Shepparton City Council, the theme of this year’s event focused on encouraging businesses to consider how welcoming and inclusive they were for people of all abilities.
The event offered a number of all-abilities activities, including wheelchair basketball, soccer, earth balls, giant games, AUSLAN classes, art activities and face painting, and Dotz for Kids provided sensory-friendly activities and a chill-out space.
There was a free barbecue cooked by Mooroopna Lions Club members as well as Lutfiyes Shish Kebab and Mr Sheppy’s ice-cream van.
A number of information stalls as well as music and demonstrations were on the main stage.
Speaking at the event was Shepparton councillor Bruce Giovanetti, who, before being elected to council, was chief executive at disability provider ConnectGV for 20 years.
Cr Giovanetti had focused his time on making sure those with a disability were supported and accepted into the community.
He said there was still a significant amount of stigma attached to those with a disability and the event aimed to break down barriers.
‘‘I think some people in the community still view people with disabilities as being different, but in actual fact they’re not,’’ he said.
‘‘They may speak differently or look different, but when it’s all said and done, they’re the same as you and I.’’
Cr Giovanetti said while the industry had its ups and downs, the National Disability Insurance Scheme would have a significant impact on care providers.
‘‘Organisations that have a broad range of services and have the critical mass within the organisation will do quite well, but those organisations that are perhaps more niche services will struggle,’’ Cr Giovanetti said.
‘‘They won’t have that alternate funding those with a range of services have, and I think they’ll either have to adapt or there’s significant opportunities now for those organisations to look at merging, which can be difficult.’’