EXCLUSIVE: 2017 International Day of People with a Disability: ‘Every human life is equal, inherently sacred and worthy of dignity and respect’: Archbishop Costelloe
Carlisle mother Rosalba Costanzo and her daughter Melissa, who receives care support through Identitywa. In response to International Day of People with a Disability, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week said that our Catholic tradition understands every human life to be equal, inherently sacred and worthy of dignity and respect as the bedrock of a just society. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
By Jamie O’Brien
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week said that our Catholic tradition understands every human life to be equal, inherently sacred and worthy of dignity and respect as the bedrock of a just society.
In a heartfelt response to International Day of People with a Disability 2017, which is celebrated this Sunday 3 December, Archbishop Costelloe has released a Pastoral Letter to the Perth Catholic community. The theme of the day for 2017 is ‘Transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all’.
“As a Catholic community walking in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd, International Day of People with Disability is an opportunity for each one of us to make positive contributions to the lives of 4.3 million Australians with a disability with the hope of breaking down physical, technological and attitudinal barriers and realising an inclusive society for everyone,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
As at 2015, there are almost one in five people in Australia who are reportedly living with a disability (18.3 per cent or 4.3 million people). A further 22.1 per cent of Australians had a long-term health condition but no disability, while the remaining 59.5 per cent had neither disability nor a long-term health condition.
Continuing his Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Costelloe made note of several agencies and organisations of the Archdiocese of Perth that provide help and support to those living with a disability, ranging from 24-hour round-the-clock care to at home support.
Some of these agencies include Identitywa, the Emmanuel Centre, Catholic Association for Special Education Support, Catholic Ministry for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Personal Advocacy Service. We also have the vital services of MercyCare, Southern Cross Care, MercyHealth and St John of God Health Care.
As one of West Australia’s leading agencies in disability support, Identitywa, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary, is an outreach of the Archdiocese of Perth with services based proudly on Catholic values and a vision that encompasses people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Identitywa CEO Marina Re said in supporting those with a disability, the Northbridge-based organisation, with offices in Balcatta and Cockburn, above all else, makes a commitment to act.
“We put in place the best strategies possible to ensure the people we support live with a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging and a sense of wellbeing,” Ms Re said.
“The staff at Identitywa share the journey of life with the people we support so that they achieve their goals, whatever they may be,” she said.
Ms Re went on to say that for each individual and family we support, this means the organisation begins the relationship by asking, ‘What does a good life look like for you?’
“We then work together to find the right combination of supports to help make this a reality,” Ms Re said.
Melissa Costanza receives care support through Identitywa. In response to International Day of People with a Disability, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has this week said that our Catholic tradition understands every human life to be equal, inherently sacred and worthy of dignity and respect as the bedrock of a just society. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.
For Carlisle mother Rosalba Constanzo, the support from Identitywa has been life-changing.
Mrs Constanzo has been receiving support for her daughter Melissa, since 1989.
The third of three children, Melissa has a rare condition that impacts on both her physical and cognitive abilities.
Melissa, now aged 30, lives in a shared accommodation with four other people also supported by Identitywa with round-the-clock support.
“The support of Identitywa has meant Melissa has been able to enjoy positive experiences with myself and my family, in addition to making new friends,” Mrs Constanzo said.
“It has also meant that our family has been able to focus on all aspects of life,” she said.
Continuing his Pastoral Letter, Archbishop Costelloe emphasised that the Church here in our Archdiocese of Perth, is committed to making herself a welcoming home for all.
The Archbishop also explained that there are currently some 3.7 million Australians with a disability who have a specific limitation or restriction such as a schooling or employment restriction (e.g. unable to attend or required special equipment) and/or limitation with core activities - communication, mobility or self-care.
“Participating in the workforce is important for social inclusion and economic independence,” Archbishop Costelloe said.
“Having a disability can impact on a person’s ability and opportunities to participate in paid work,” he said.
Ms Re explained that Identitywa is continually finding new ways of adapting our support to suit people’s needs, goals and dreams as they change over time.
“By working in partnership we are committed to designing and redesigning services and supports that individuals and families really want. We are very keen to continue to be innovative and individuals and families are best placed to tell us how we can deliver this and what this looks like for them,” Ms Re said.
“The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) presents exciting opportunities for many more people with disability and we are ready to listen and provide the services and supports to translate dreams and hopes into reality,” she said.