Disability and Climate Change

I’m glad to have another opportunity to talk about the unique situation disabled people face as we tackle climate change. I’ll be speaking at this event as part of the Greater Dandenong Sustainability Festival and Libraries After Dark at Springvale Library.

Climate change is happening now, and it affects everyone, including people with disabilities. Join us and several special guests as we discuss this topic and hear your views and thoughts. You will also learn how people with a disability can prepare for and stay comfortable during extreme weather events.

Thursday 7 April 2022, 7:30pm -9:00pm

Springvale Library 5 Hillcrest Grove, Springvale

Register to attend via this link

If you’re local I’d love to see you at the Springvale Library in the Springvale Community Hub, but for those not able to make it in person the session will be recorded and available to watch after it has taken place.

We’ve Got This Publication Day

I’m incredibly proud to be included in this anthology published today by Black Inc. which gathers together stories from disabled parents from Australia. My chapter reflects on how my feminism and disability politics have informed my parenting and vice versa. Spoiler alert: they’re impossible to extricate from each other!

Whether you’re a parent, a person with a disability or have a disabled parent or parent-to-be in your life, this collection is a terrific way to learn about the resilience and tenacity of our community.

You can purchase the book at your local independent bookstore or here online.

How does a father who is blind take his child to the park? How is a mother with dwarfism treated when she walks her child down the street? How do Deaf parents know when their baby cries in the night?

When writer and musician Eliza Hull was pregnant with her first child, like most parents-to-be she was a mix of excited and nervous. But as a person with a disability, there were added complexities. She wondered: Will the pregnancy be too hard? Will people judge me? Will I cope with the demands of parenting? More than 15 per cent of Australian households have a parent with a disability, yet their stories are rarely shared, their experiences almost never reflected in parenting literature.

In We’ve Got This, twenty-five parents who identify as Deaf, disabled or chronically ill discuss the highs and lows of their parenting journeys and reveal that the greatest obstacles lie in other people’s attitudes. The result is a moving, revelatory and empowering anthology. As Rebekah Taussig writes, ‘Parenthood can tangle with grief and loss. Disability can include joy and abundance. And goddammit – disabled parents exist.’

Contributors include Jacinta Parsons, Kristy Forbes, Graeme Innes AM, Jessica Smith OAM, Jax Jacki Brown OAM, Nicole Lee, Elly May Barnes, Neangok Chair, Renay Barker-Mulholland, Micheline Lee and Shakira Hussein. We’ve Got This will appeal to readers of Growing Up Disabled in Australia and other titles in the Growing Up series.

‘Full of deep, beautiful, important stories. I’ve learnt so much from this book.’—Clare Bowditch, musician, actress and radio presenter

How being disabled prepared Lefa for parenting in lockdown

Lefa Singleton-Norton says her disability has taught her to be flexible, ready to adapt and refocus on any given day depending on what comes her way.

I’ve got an article up on ABC Everyday about my experience of the pandemic as a disabled parent. I’d love for you to pop over to the site and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt for you.

The supports I and my family have built into our lives to support my disability have proven to be some of the most useful factors in finding our way through these challenging times.

My disability has made me resilient. It has taught me to be flexible, ready to adapt and refocus on any given day depending on what life throws at us.

I know that even on the worst day it’s the little things that will get you through. These skills happen to be exactly what is needed during our current circumstances.

ABC Everyday

I wanted to reframe the misconception that having a disability means only having a list of deficits. My own experience is that as much as my disability can limit me, it has also given me valuable skills. Some of which I’m drawing on right now.

Our library in The Guardian today

From fine amnesties, to boosting the prominence of digital offerings, to simply putting books in the post, libraries have drastically changed the way they operate to accommodate the massive social changes imposed by governments during the pandemic, often with heartwarming results.

Today The Guardian published When Covid closed the library: staff call every member of Victorian library to say hello, an article about what some Victorian libraries have been doing during the pandemic. It’s wonderful to have this testament to the work library staff have been doing.

While some people are facing reduced employment or unemployment right now, this pandemic has meant a significant increase in my work. Under the leadership of my manager, Lisa Dempster, who is quoted in the article, our team have worked hard to shift programming online and think creatively about how to help our community transition to lockdown.

From ensuring people are aware of our already existing digital offerings such as ebooks and audiobooks, to shifting in-person programs like Storytime online (three times per day, five days a week!), to entirely new programs like Caring Calls… it’s been quite a time.

Our staff have had to learn new skills, adapt to constantly changing work priorities and communicate constantly with our community. As soon as we find solutions to suit the current lockdown level and limitations, it all changes again and we readjust what we can do, trying to keep our patrons and their needs at the forefront the whole time.

When so many vulnerable members of our community find themselves even more marginalised by current circumstances, it feels good to be working in a community-orientated organisation that makes a tangible difference in people’s lives. Seeing feedback flood in through social media and our email inbox telling us what a difference it has made for people to feel less alone, or be able to access reading material, or have a familiar face for their kids to see every day during our Storytime videos has made the hard work worthwhile.

It’s worth reminding you that anyone in Victoria is welcome to join Yarra Plenty Regional Library as a digital member, which offers immediate access to our eLibrary. That means instant downloads of ebooks, audiobooks and streaming of films/television. We’ve got a bunch of exciting programs coming up soon, so now is a great time to become a member.

In the Good Books Episode 4

Episode Four is now ready for you to listen to! I felt extra responsibility to get this particular set of recommendations right because our listener, Tania, was looking for crime and thrillers. We all know how many of these I read, so I really wanted to find Tania the perfect books. Fingers crossed she enjoys them.

The YPRL website has all the full list of books we discussed on the podcast and any other information you need about the podcast (including how to submit your own survey for us to use on future episodes!).

In the Good Books Episode 3

A new episode of our podcast is out now in all the usual places (including Apple iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, Podtail). I’m particularly pleased with this episode, we got a lot out of it. You know you’re having fun with a podcast when the editing takes a really long time because you’re all laughing too much during recording.

You can find more information, including a full list of the books discussed in the episode, on the YPRL website.

In the Good Books Episode 1

Our first episode is live! Patrick, Sarah and I give you the first taste of how we work to find the best recommendations for library patrons looking to find new books.

Creating this podcast has been such a fun experience, mostly because Sarah, Patrick and I enjoy collaborating with each other. And, of course, because talking about books is pretty much the best way imaginable to spend your time.

I hope you enjoy our first episode. We’d love you to subscribe to the podcast through your usual podcast app, and leave us a rating and/or review if you’re so inclined.

Pop over to the YPRL website for more information, including the full list of books discussed in the episode.

In the Good Books – a podcast by Yarra Plenty Regional Library

Another podcast? Yes! I’ve teamed up with two of my fellow coordinators at Yarra Plenty Regional Library – Sarah Schmidt and Patrick Jovaras – to create a podcast all helping readers through their reading conundrums.

The project grew from our Book Valet service, where library members fill in a short survey about their current reading habits and likes/dislikes and one of the YPRL team recommends some books we think they would enjoy. Sarah, Patrick and I found ourself marvelling at how differently we each approached the surveys; not once did we select the same books for a person, but we all came up with a range of titles that met the criteria our patrons set for us. We started dissecting the process of book recommendations and realised that the most enjoyable part for us was the debates (both internally with ourselves and then externally with our coworkers in the office) on finding the perfect book. To us, these conversations were fascinating, and we thought other readers and librarians would enjoy exploring the art of recommending the perfect read. Thus, In the Good Books was born.

Our trailer for the podcast is available to listen to now, and you can subscribe to the podcast in all your regular podcast listening apps and websites including Apple iTunes, Spotify, Podbean and Podtail.