Invisible Disability Stigma Signals Need For Change

Invisible Disability Stigma Signals Need For Change

Disability discrimination accounts for the highest volume of complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission annually.

This can potentially lead to those living with an invisible disability to decide to hide their condition from prospective employers in fear of discrimination and social stigma, according to leading Disability Employment Services experts atWork Australia. In order to create inclusive workplaces, the need for support, open conversation and businesses to see the ability in disability, has never been more important.

The International Day of People with Disability will be observed on 3 December, with the theme ‘seeing the ability in disability’. With this in mind, it’s key to note that not all disabilities are visible and therefore conversations should be widely encouraged, promoting empowerment and inclusiveness. It needs to be said that focussing on abilities is positive, however labelling and the stigma attached to ‘dis’ rings loud and clear across the country regardless. 

Research shows that mental health conditions are at least twice as prevalent than they were in non-pandemic circumstances. With another 700,0002 Australians said to live with a brain injury and approximately 3.95 million experiencing hearing loss, invisible disabilities are affecting more people each day. 

“Invisible disabilities, or hidden disabilities, are those that are not immediately obvious including mental and/or neurological conditions, impairments to the senses, chronic pain and issues that restrict movement,” says Shaun Pianta, atWork Australia DES Ambassador & Disability Awareness Trainer. “For example, people who live with a mental health condition may not ‘appear’ to have a disability but much of their daily life is affected by their condition. It’s the same with chronic pain, or diabetes. As a result of these conditions not being instantly apparent, this can lead to a multitude of misconceptions, judgements and sadly, discrimination,” he adds.

In a recent study on the people who experience the highest rate of employment restrictions, those living with ‘invisible’ disabilities reported highest, with 91% experiencing mental ill health, 88% for emotional and nervous conditions and 78%  experiencing chronic pain.

Sharah Smith, a client of atWork Australia lives with depression and anxiety which at one point led to a severe social phobia and agoraphobia. “I was unable to leave my house alone, and even if I had company to help me, the anxiety would be unbearable. I was beginning to be unable to go grocery shopping. I lost contact with friends which led to loneliness and increased depression,” says Sharah. 

“The fact that I couldn’t leave my home made it incredibly hard to even consider employment, and I worried that while people are usually understanding, some may still judge and think that I was ‘lazy’ or needed to ‘get over it’. When I began speaking with atWork Australia however, I began to trust them and the process due to their understanding of my illness.

“I eventually became comfortable around my Job Coaches who encouraged me to try new things, like going to appointments and catching public transport alone. I attended a resilience group atWork Australia hosted and regained some of my social skills. They also referred me to counselling and coached me before interviews, even driving me to meetings and my first day of work. They also helped me gain my licence, which was a requisite for my current job,” Sharah adds. 

Business leaders have a pivotal role in educating themselves and their employees on the benefits of employing someone living with disability and changing the focus to seeing the abilities that these workers bring to their roles. In celebration of the International Day of People with Disability, the Department of Social Services has produced a number of resources which can encourage workplaces to promote and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of people with disability. While many organisations will still be working remotely, businesses can get involved online, celebrating staff members who may be living with disability and inspiring other staff members to join in the conversation. 

Beyond supporting those living with disability, businesses also gain a lot of benefit from creating inclusive workplaces, as research shows that in 9 out of 10 cases (90%), employees with disability, injury or health condition are as, or more, productive than their peers and almost the same number (86%)  show superior attendance. 

Disability Employment Services, an Australian Government initiative delivered by atWork Australia, aims to support businesses by offering bespoke inclusive recruitment advice (from development of position description through to retention of staff) based on their needs, and to connect them with job-ready candidates. atWork Australia works with prospective employees to prepare them for interviews, while assisting employers with the hiring and onboarding process through screening candidates based on skills, abilities and organisational fit. Once in place, the provider continues to monitor the placement and offers assistance to both employer and employee over the first year, and beyond if required.

“I now actually work for atWork Australia and love my job,” says Sharah. “While I still struggle with tasks such as making phone contact with clients when there are other people in the room, my experience as a client and living with an invisible disability has benefited both myself and my clients, as I am able to empathise with their situations and service them in a way that helps their progress.”

“Our aim is to shape a society and the future of work, that is inclusive for all people living with disability, injury or a health condition,” says Shaun. “That starts by recognising that not all disabilities are visible and that no matter the condition, we need to remove stigma to create better relationships for all,” Shaun concludes.

For more information, please visit https://www.atworkaustralia.com.au/des

 

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Invisible Disability Stigma Signals Need For Change

Disability discrimination accounts for the highest volume of complaints to the Australian Human...
THE NEW AUSSIE APP SOLVING FASHION’S BIGGEST ISSUE

THE NEW AUSSIE APP SOLVING FASHION’S BIGGEST ISSUE

A size 12 in one store isn’t always the right fit or style for a real size 12, and who can really afford a personal stylist? An Aussie app has taken this problem and created a breathtaking solution. Meet, Mys Tyler. 

When it comes to shopping, returns are a huge problem. Clothing and shoes bought online are the worst offenders, with 30-40% returned. According to research, 91 percent of those who ordered clothing online are not satisfied with fit. In the US alone, return deliveries will cost $550B in 2020 with this cost expected to soar globally into a $1 trillion issue3. Not to mention the often demoralising fitting room experience most women face thanks to the disparity between how clothes look on a model compared to real bodies of myriad sizes, heights and ethnicities. 

Mys Tyler (@mys.tyler) is revolutionising online shopping by offering women of all body types a new way to find clothing that actually fits their shape, size, and style. The free app matches users with like-bodied women across the globe, already shopping for clothes that will suit them.

Mys Tyler’s FIT algorithm and data from 40,000 real women is set to fix a $1 Trillion problem

Mys Tyler contributor April Watson

By creating an accurate picture of how items will look and fit on your own body, Mys Tyler will take the guesswork out of shopping, and save women from the inefficient (and often demoralising) trial, error and return cycle. A cycle that also has negative economic and environmental impacts. 

“We’re fixing a critical flaw in the world of fashion that has meant women have had to buy clothes off models or influencers who look nothing like them,” says Mys Tyler founder & CEO, Sarah Neill. “Until now women have had to imagine what clothes would look like on themselves, only to try them on with a shockingly low success rate.”

Sarah, a Sydney born and raised serial entrepreneur has returned home after a decade living and working in top tier startups in the US to build Mys Tyler. She explains that the industry has been trying to solve fit with size, with solutions like body scanning and virtual fitting rooms. “These tech solutions aren’t solving the human problem. As women we know fit is more than just size, it’s how clothes flatter our shape, complement our colouring and knowing how to style them. While current solutions have fallen short on solving fit, we believe that real women and a little bit of innovation can.”

Photo above:Mys Tyler founder & CEO, Sarah Neill.

The first-of-its-kind fashion app works in three simple steps:

  • A body quiz and Mys Tyler’s FIT algorithm matches women of similar heights, sizes, and skin tones;
  • Users choose to “follow” women whose style they like to create a personalised feed of fashion content that is both body and style relevant;
  • They can then shop their favourite items directly through the app.

“There are millions of women around the world who look like you, love shopping, and know what clothes best flatter your body. We help you find them”, says Sarah. At this time, Mys Tyler matches women to a database of hundreds of celebrities with a true range of heights, shapes and ethnicities

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But while celebrities are real people, not all real people are celebrities, and so Mys Tyler is actively recruiting women from across the globe to share their fashion wins and help their #sizesisters, while also earning commission.

User-generated content from Mys Tyler contributors will be available on the app in the next app release. As Mys Tyler continues to grow, the app will make a move to focus purely on contributed content from real, diverse women across the globe. Mys Tyler is already resonating with women who have jumped on board to become contributors. Contributors, like these women below, who join early will receive “founding contributor” status and additional perks.

Above image: Robyn- contributor to Mys Tyler

“I love Mys Tyler for normalizing every body type. In a world where social media is rampant, has filters to ‘perfect’ your physical appearance, sets ridiculous standards for women, this is a much needed app to bring us back to reality. Show us that we are all beautiful no matter what our size is,” says @thebodzilla AKA April Watson.

 

Holly Richards @hollynrichards says: “As a plus-size woman, I was dubious that Mys Tyler would be a place for me. But then when I took the Fit quiz and was matched with a celebrity the same size and shape as me, I was so emotional! Finally, an app that includes all bodies. I immediately signed up as a contributor because I want to help people like me who don’t fit the “norm” find clothes that actually fit, make them feel good and look good!” 

“I absolutely love the concept because it’s important to realize that not everyone has the easiest time finding things that properly fit their body shape. It seems easy to go on Instagram or Pinterest and find styles and outfits you love, but sometimes when you try them on yourself you feel uncomfortable or even upset with the way it looks. Mys Tyler is a great way to find outfits that will look amazing on your body and to help find your personal style!” says Robyn @missrobynelizabeth_.

The revolutionary fashion app is a transparent and honest representation of how fashion looks on different shapes and bodies and it’s empowering the way women shop while combating the fashion industry’s trillion-dollar returns problem.

Mys Tyler is now available on the App Store and Google Play as a free download.

www.mys-tyler.com

@mys.tyler

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The Haunted History of the Hollywood Sign

The Haunted History of the Hollywood Sign

Written by Cassidy Krygger

Hollywood can be a pretty scary place at the best of times.

However, that is nothing compared to the real haunting going on at the Hollywood sign. There have been numerous reports for over 80 years of sightings of the supernatural. But the most common sighting is of a woman, dressed in 1930s clothing that appears and disappears in front of peoples very eyes.. So who is this mysterious woman? And why would she be haunting one of the most famous landmarks in the world?

The Hollywood sign is now an American icon. But in 1923 when the original HOLLYWOODLAND sign went up, it was just a real estate gimmick for the new housing estate in the Hollywood Hills that was originally only meant to be there for a year and a half. But after the rise of American cinema that developed in Los Angeles, the sign became an internationally recognised symbol of the industry. But on September 16th, 1932, the legend of the Hollywood sign took a sinister turn when the 24-year-old actress Peg Entwistle climbed up to the top of the H of the Hollywoodland sign and jumped to her death. 

Peg Entwistle was a successful Broadway actor in New York 

Who in early 1932, decided to make her way to Hollywood and try to make it in the relatively new world of the movies.

She quickly landed a small role in the movie Thirteen Women and was signed by movie studio RKO. But after watching her performance in the movie, RKO decided not to renew her contract. This devastated Entwistle and she disappeared from the house where she had been staying. The next day, a hiker found her body right under the H of the Hollywoodland sign. It was soon after that, that the paranormal sightings began. 

Hollywood was rife with rumours in the 1930s that Peg Entwistle was haunting their famous sign. But it wasn’t until 1940 that the first truly spooky moment happened when the H of the Hollywoodland, the same that Peg climbed over eight years earlier, mysteriously fell. And from that point on, there have been dozens of reports varying from witnessing a chilling white mist going up towards the sign and then disappearing, to sightings of a distressed female apparition dressed in 1930s clothing.  In 2014, Megan Santos was jogging near the sign and told Vanity Fair that she saw what she thought was a woman who was ‘walking on air’. Could this have been the ghost of Peg Entwistle? 

Today, the Hollywood sign is fenced off to stop people from climbing it, however, there are plenty of ghost tours that cash in on Peg Entwistle’s name and take groups of brave and willing people on hikes around the hills of Hollywood. I do understand the curiosity and fascination in searching for the famous ghost that haunts the Hollywood sign. Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?  But I think it is important to remember that Peg Entwistle was a real person who had aspirations and dreams like the rest of us. 

If you or anyone you know is experiencing depression, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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How Books Save Us- A Pondering by Karen Brooks

How Books Save Us- A Pondering by Karen Brooks

Written by Karen Brooks

Here we are at the tail end of a year that, in its numerical configuration alone (2020) promised so much.

Instead of clarity, pragmatism and all the other positive meanings that arise when we used to think of 2020, many of us have encountered sickness, death, loss of income, stability, isolation, family crises, never mind sadness, fear, and familial, social and state divisions. 

Throughout these long months, the arts – music, dance, poetry, prose, films, TV, clips and events on social media etc – have played an enormous role in helping us cope with the harsh reality of Covid-19 and its fallout – including the endless dismal and doom-laden news-cycle. This has enabled us to appreciate, perhaps in ways we haven’t before, the integral role the arts play in helping us understand and define what it is to be human.  

Books and fiction especially provide a measure of unquantifiable comfort in harrowing times.

 

They allow readers to escape, even briefly, the cruel or mundane veracity of the everyday and walk vicariously in someone else’s shoes, to safely experience their emotions and undergo a journey that, more often than not, resolves in a satisfying way.

More than just bibliotherapy (which is how the psychological and emotional consolation books offer is sometimes described), books can be personally transformative and, most certainly, transportative as well.

After all, when the going seems tough, there’s always a story to fall into, a lexical journey to embark upon, and sometimes quite literally lose yourself in.

According to recent studies, reading has increased anywhere from 37% – 41% during  the pandemic.

While some folk sought eschatological narratives (end of the world scenarios) in order to perhaps channel their own fears, others turned to the classics, re-read old favourites, reached for their enormous TBR piles – some of which contained books they’d been promising themselves for decades (War and Peace anyone?), found the time to increase their knowledge around certain topics (racism, politics, history etc), or took the opportunity to read genres they’ve never tried before.  

One British study simplified people’s choices as those who “read for exploration and those who re-read for safety”.  

At home, curled up in a chair or in bed, reading of other people, periods and places, is a panacea that both soothes the soul and fires the imagination. It reminds us that while we might be doing it hard (whether that’s because of the pandemic, loss, grief, sad memories, poor health, relationship issues, anger, parenthood etc), struggling or triumphing, these are what humans have done since time immemorial. We’re remarkably resilient. Sometimes, the only way to recognise and appreciate that characteristic, to understand we too will get through this, is within fiction.  

What’s evident is that books offer something few other options can: they’re the word equivalent of comfort food and we’re hungry for it.

Gratitude for what creative artists have given us during lockdown – through their books, art, music, film, dance, TV, social media, cyber-performance etc – has been loud and clear right around the world. What a pity our government cannot acknowledge the importance of the arts and artistes; their intrinsic social, cultural and personal value, choosing instead to cut funding to important bodies and prizes, or offer meagre and competitive grants and loans – and at a time when both the creators and the grateful public need the arts most.

Creative artists are both inventors and curators of culture, of our collective imaginations and hearts. Their work worms its way into our souls and minds, becoming part of individual histories, our memories; they’re a short-cut to a moment in time, even to a version of ourselves we no longer recognise – for better and worse.

Books allow us to escape the nightmare of the present (or past) and dream of other spaces, possibilities; of different ways of being. They enable us to move beyond the present and imagine a different future and even, in our darkest moments, a better one.

About Karen: 

 Dr. Karen Brooks: is an Author,  columnist, social commentator and academic. Karen is also a part of a gorgeous brewery in Tasmania with her partner. The brewery and the authory keep her busy!

www.karenrbrooks.com

Twitter: KarenBrooksAU

Associate Professor and Honorary Senior Research Fellow IASH, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland.

Join Karen for great conversations and sharing on FaceBook: Karen Brooks Author – love to have you!

 

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