Hamish McKenzie of Australia bats

Hamish McKenzie of Australia bats

Of all the sports I could think of, cricket is probably the least likely I would choose to play blindfolded.

It stands as a testament to the great Australian commitment to sport that there has been a Blind Cricket Association since 1922 when returned WWI veterans decided that they could still play – despite sight loss from war injuries – and fashioned a ball out of a tin can with rocks placed inside so they could hear, rather than see, the ball.

The fist interstate match was played in 1928 between Vic and NSW in Sydney with a return call played the next year in Melbourne.

Today the audible ball is a little more sophisticated with a similar shape, weight and size as a conventional cricket ball. The game is played in all states and there is currently the biennial championships being played in Adelaide as I write.

It is the only sport aside from the Paralympics for which a person with disability can represent Australia internationally. Talent scouts are at the championships right now scanning for future members of the Australian team that play in England, India and Sri Lanka.

Everyone is watching the cricket now and feeling proud of being Australian, but I think that the guys playing with the audible ball say a lot more about what is truly remarkable about the Australian spirit.

Home is where the heart is

In the last couple of days the story of Naomi Clarke has surfaced, whose at-home care needs exceed the funding guidelines for Disability SA. She has fallen into the category of individuals who face leaving their home for fulltime care in either a nursing home or assisted accommodation. She is 44.

Naomi has Kyphoscoliosis and a spinal cord injury resulting from a botched operation when she was five. She has been confined to a wheelchair since then, however this did not impede her receiving a mainstream education and working fulltime up until her organs started crushing her lungs three years ago requiring her to have constant oxygen and to rely on a VPAP machine to force air into her lungs while she sleeps.

Her husband cared for her fulltime until finances required him to go back to work recently, and so the care allocated by Disability SA is used while he is at away. Leaving him with the option of not sleeping overnight when there is no backup or risking his wife’s life.

Their situation is heartbreaking and illogical given that it will cost more tax payer funds to accommodate Naomi in a nursing home than give her the additional funding needed to stay at home.

A light in the dark is that the SA Health Minister Tony Picollo has said that Disability SA will be meeting with Naomi and her husband next week to discuss her particular needs with the aim of enabling her to stay at home.

Lets hope they can work out a better outcome for Naomi. To support their cause link to

Don’t Dis My Ability on International Disability Day


Donna Purcell with Hetty  Donna Purcell with her guide dog Hetty

Last week we mused about sympathy vs empathy and switching to a focus on a person’s ability rather than their disability. Today is International Disability Day and a strong theme of recognition of achievement and potential was campaigned by Don’t Dis My Ability.    
The defining theme for Don’t Dis My Ability reinforces the push to redefine how the community interacts with people who are living with a disability  by first and foremost looking at what the ability is: skill sets, experience and ambitions rather than where they are hindered.    
Donna Purcell is the face of this year’s campaign and one 19 ambassadors whose occupations range from stand-up comedians,  musicians, performance and visual artists, athletes, social workers, students to corporate executives. The great connecting factor within the selected ambassadors is both a refusal to be defined or confined by their disability, marking out and achieving goals and a desire to help others.    
As the face of the Don’t Dis My Ability Donna Purcell is an example of the power of persistence and goal setting. Donna talks about the resilience she developed as a result of having as a young girl, to stay in Sydney away from her country based family  for extended periods of time in order to receive medical treatment for her eye deteriorating condition. This strength of character has led Donna through a varied and successful career.    
She has made brave moves, including the move to work outside of the disability industry because she felt she could more effectively advocate for people living with a disability from outside that world. She is now the Diversity Manager at Commonwealth Bank, supporting the career goals of others.    
Everyone should hop on the Don’t Dis My Ability link below and find out more about people who are really busy living and excelling.