Develop, support, promote disability leaders

Author Archives: Christina Ryan

  1. Not Like You

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    A row of small white bowls on a wooden surface, each bowl has a different spice or liquid in it.

    By Christina Ryan DLI CEO


    Diversity means not like you.


    “Not like you” means people who approach problems differently, achieve outcomes differently, and who might look and sound different.


    Disability Leadership Institute members regularly report on ways that their workplaces insist they look the same, sound the same, approach problems the same, and work to achieve outcomes the same way as their manager or other team members. Sometimes this seems to be about “fitting in” and sometimes it seems to be generated by the manager’s discomfort with being around a disabled person, or in approaching work in a way that the manager isn’t familiar with.


    This is a form of discrimination and harassment. It is also an effective way to prevent the disabled person from working freely and productively. It is a very effective way of obliterating the diversity in the room.


    Somebody who stops being who they are and “fits in,” who works to change the way they work, is assimilating. Assimilation is not diversity, it is sameness.


    The point of diversity is to embrace difference and acknowledge its contribution to innovation and problem solving. When we put two heads together, we get a different outcome. When we put many heads together, we get a very different outcome.


    Why then do we have so much trouble embracing diversity in our workplaces? Difference, people who are not like you, makes for better decisions, better outcomes and faster problem solving.


    Many disability leaders report leaving their jobs because someone new comes into the team or into management. The most common reason is that the new person expects them to be someone they cannot be. They are expected to lose their difference, to become the person that the new person wants. To be just like the new person. To be not disabled. This is assimilation; you are welcome here so long as you look, work, and behave like me.


    Everyone is different. Every human is different. Yet, for some reason, disabled people are expected to not be different. We are expected to twist ourselves into being the same as other people so that we fit in.


    This is damaging, it is reducing the effectiveness and productivity of highly qualified staff, and it is preventing the realisation of inclusive and diverse workplaces where all are welcome.


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    Christina Ryan is the CEO of the Disability Leadership Institute, which provides professional development and support for disability leaders. She identifies as a disabled person.

  2. DLI members in the news – May 2024

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    Lisa Cox – How we can use the power of visibility to stamp out disability stereotypes

    Dwayne Fernandes – Podcasts released to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day

    Tricia Malowney – In Practice: Further calls for feedback on Scope of Practice review

    Gemma Smart – Congratulations to our new equity officers!

    Anna Boucher – The federal budget shows Australia’s net migration intake will fall sharply — but some say it’s outside the government’s control

    Claudia Forsberg – What would happen if Australia were to ban social media altogether?

    Belle Owen – Disability sector and new SA Mums become allys over inaccessibility

    Amanda Lawrie Jones – After hitting her car, Brenton Brown left Carol-Anne for dead – twice

    Amanda Lawrie Jones – Brenton Brown pleads guilty to crashing into Carol-Anne Jones, leaving her trapped as he ran away

    Ryan Smith – Relive the highlights of the 2024 Design Inn Symposium

    Lisa Cox – Bus Stop Films unveils initial program for November summit

    Tricia Malowney – In Practice: Medicare compliance for disability assessments

    Christina Ryan – Disability inclusion is a financial issue too

    Karen Hedley – Clear direction for local social enterprise


  3. DLI Members in the news – April 2024

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    Shane Hryhorec – How finding accessible accommodation in Australia just became much easier

    Claudia Forsberg – Psychiatrists urge the government to address critical mental health workforce shortage

    Shane Hryhorec – Disability advocates call for better venue accessibility as Pavely app co-creator hopes for expanded rollout

    Reece Gains – Push for bus services for Wyndham estates

    Shane Hryhorec – Government grant not enough to save Port Adelaide nightclub

    Shane Hryhorec – Popular inclusive bar in Port Adelaide to close its doors (for now)

    Lisa Cox – ‘Far more challenging than a wheelchair and my prosthetic leg’: Lisa Cox shares struggles with ‘invisible’ disability

    Claudia Forsberg – Study of teachers leaving the classroom offers hope for schools struggling with shortage

    Belle Owen – Consultation opens to improve SA event accessibility

    Gemma Smart – Universities Accord recommends changes for part-time students

  4. DLI members in the news – March 2024

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    Yenn Purkis – TEDx Canberra, Autigender and allyship

    Shane Hryhorec – Disability advocate Shane Hryhorec says he was ‘patronised’ and ‘humiliated’ on Virgin Australia flight

    Frances Kupke Smith – Organisers accused of falsely promoting Bill Shorten’s attendance at NDIS conference

    Dan Stubbs, Colleen Furlanetto – Disability Commissioner visits Shepparton

    Debbie Heron, Disability Leadership Institute – Forging a new trajectory: leader Debbie Heron joins Life Without Barriers as co-CEO intern

    Shane Hryhorec – Council wins inclusivity award but shuts accessible toilet

    Muthu Didi – Outrage over insensitivity in ‘Ihusaas’: a hopeful step towards acceptance and inclusivity?

    Shane Hryhorec – Uphill challenge as beach users with disabilities call on governments for equal access to Australia’s coast

    Shane Hryhorec – Uphill challenge as beach users with disabilities call on governments for equal access to Australia’s coast

    Akii Ngo, Ruth Bonser, Haidi Badawi – Leading Change: Disabled Women, Gender Diverse Reflect on IWD 2024

    Shane Hryhorec – One in five Aussies miss out on beach fun due to accessibility issues

    Emma Bennison – “Stressful and humiliating”: Blind disability charity executive abandoned at airport

    Kat Reed – ACT Budget – disability groups call for whole of Government disability response and boost to struggling disability advocacy services

    Simon Darcy – Is the travel industry ageist

    Haidi Badawi – Empowering Disabled Women on International Women’s Day

    Belle Owen – The one major reform needed to improve Access Taxis

    Carly Findlay, Christina Ryan, DLI – It Is Still Legal To Pay Disabled People Below Minimum Wage


    Lisa Cox – Ignite Change through Connection: A night of inspiration and action

    Shane Hryhorec – Aussie beaches missing one ‘simple’ thing causing thousands to miss out

    Yenn Purkis – In Our Words, exploring the intersections of identity

    Disability Leadership Institute – How culture, confidence and capital bar the way to more women-led businesses