'Out there everywhere with their mates': disability in the 21st century

3 February 2017

Dr Rhonda Galbally is a leading rights advocate who played a key role in the campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. In December 2016 she delivered the Brotherhood’s Sambell Oration, our major annual event for promoting a fairer Australia.


In a speech to over 400 guests, Rhonda blended the personal with the policy. She told of overcoming and living with her own disability while forging a remarkable career.

“I became disabled in 1949,” she said, “just toddling enough to fly down the footpath into my dad’s arms as soon as I heard the gate creak signalling his return from work.

“I had only a couple of words at that age and one of them was ‘Daddy’: a word I would shriek with excitement at the sound of him out the front.”

Rhonda also reflected on the long campaign that led to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the largest social policy reform in Australia in the past 30 years.

The NDIS – a publicly-funded social program based on the principles of insurance – offers people living with a disability more choice and control over the support they receive and who provides it. Since 2013, the program has been phased in across the country. Rhonda has just been re-appointed to continue on the NDIS board.

Her vision for the ground-breaking program is that it “supports people to live their lives as citizens, enabled to become playmates, schoolmates, workmates – out there everywhere with their mates”.

Watch the full video with sign language below.


Read the full speech

The Brotherhood, in partnership with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) – the federal agency responsible for administering the program – is delivering local area co-ordination (LAC) services in north-eastern Melbourne.

More on our website

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse.
Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

The Brotherhood recognises the harm that family violence causes and that freedom from violence is a basic human right.
We will support our staff, volunteers, clients and the community if they experience violence.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Australian Aboriginal flag, a yellow circle on two horizontal black and red stripes

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.

Torres Strait Islander flag, an icon of a traditional headdress on blue, black and green stripes