'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.

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