Committed to changing attitudes

06 May 2015

Guest Blogger: Samantha Bird

My name is Samantha Bird, I'm 17 and my sister (aged 21) has Down Syndrome. 

For as long as I can remember I have always been aware of the horrible discriminatory remarks directed to people with disabilities that have been whispered by passers-by about my sister, used in colloquial conversations or as explicit comments about other disabled people shown in the media.

In recent years I have attempted to alter the attitudes of my peers by telling them how horrible their remarks are, even if they don't realise they are doing it.

However simply by telling my friends off for saying 'retard' in daily language or calling someone a 'downy' because they did something wrong and making Facebook status' about the issue, my mission at changing these attitudes is not being fulfilled.

In December of 2014 I sent a personal letter to my local member for Parliament to pass onto Brad Hazzard regarding a section of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) that uses highly discriminatory language in regards to diminished responsibility and intellectual disabilities or impairments.

I received a letter from Mr Hazzard regarding the Crimes Act and contrary to top google information, the section has already been amended, which is still fabulous, even though I didn't get to be the one to change it. He wrote a personal handwritten note commending me on my advocacy on behalf of my sister and my school!

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