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Time to celebrate!


“I feel privileged to be a part of something like Ability Fest that helps young people living with disability reach their potential and reach their life goals.” Stuart Minotti.


Stuart (bottom right) says there was a great sense of relief and joy from everyone to be able to spend time with each other.

One of the first music festivals held after Victoria’s lengthy lockdown, Ability Fest was a watershed moment for a lot of people in our community, particularly people with disabilities after a prolonged period of uncertainty.


Last weekend, on the south bank of the Yarra river in Melbourne, Alexandra Gardens transformed into a completely accessible venue with the inclusion of elevated platforms, pathways, quiet zones, companion ticketing, AUSLAN translators and ramps.


It was so gratifying to see many people living with disabilities among the crowd, enjoying the music, having the freedom to be themselves just like everyone else.


An event like this has the potential to change the way someone looks at themselves and help them believe that moving forward - especially as we head into a time of pandemic recovery - anything is possible.


International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD)

IDPWD is a day which promotes equality for people with disabilities in all areas of society and intends to break down barriers to inclusion and fight for the rights of individuals with disabilities.


According to the World Health Organisation, around 15 per cent of the world’s population are considered to have some form of disability. But all too often, the needs of people with disabilities are not catered for by the society they live in.


This year's theme is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’.


The day aims to empower persons with disabilities to guide and lead a disability-inclusive pandemic response and recovery, forge partnerships, tackle injustice and discrimination, expand access to technology and strengthen institutions to create a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post COVID-19 world.

Good times! Stuart enjoying the festival.


Positive vibes  

As an ANZ event co-ordinator, my role was to oversee our presence at the event, ensure we contributed in a meaningful way to the success of Ability Fest through the Sensory Zone at ANZ Chill Hill, and work with Shout for Good and our amazing ANZ volunteers to raise as much money as we could to help young people with disabilities.


I was so excited the festival was finally happening, after being cancelled in 2020 and delayed this year due to the pandemic. Emerging from lockdown, it was the first music festival I have been to and my first-time attending Ability Fest.


The day had such a positive and fun vibe! The weather was amazing and it was great to see people of all backgrounds and abilities, coming together with smiles on their faces, enjoying the sunny day with friends and getting into the awesome festival atmosphere, dancing to some live beats and music.


The artists were the stars of the day and everyone was spoilt for choice when it came to listening to great live music across two stages. There was music to suit everyone’s taste from electronic dance beats to R’n’B.


There was a great sense of relief and joy from everyone to be able to spend time with each other.

Image via @dylanalcott Instagram.


Chill time

As part of the festival ANZ provided a sensory zone – ANZ Chill Hill - a place for people with sensory challenges to relax, have a break and enjoy the festival in a quiet area, away from hustle and bustle of the crowds.


The space was designed in consultation with Get Skilled Access along with members from the ANZ Spectrum Program and the Abilities Network, taking into consideration things like lighting, colours and textures used in the space.


Key features of the sensory zone included beanbags for people to lounge around in, stress balls, noise cancelling headphones, ambient lighting and textured walls, all designed to help calm the senses and give people a chance to unwind.


ANZ Chill Hill was used throughout the day by patrons as they sought relief from the noise of the event and the heat of the sun. ANZ Chill Hill was the place to be to sit back, relax and take a load off for a while.


It had a great vantage point to the dance music stage so you could still enjoy watching the action in the comfort of shade.


For me, ANZ Chill Hill was definitely one of the highlights on the day. To have a space like this at a music festival genuinely demonstrates an inclusive environment. 

Sensory zone: ANZ’s Chill Hill


Equal Future


ANZ is committed to making a positive difference for people by ensuring our products, services, workplace and culture are welcoming and inclusive of people with disability.


The third year of Ability Fest - after a break in 2020 due to COVID -19 - this is the second year ANZ has been a major partner


A music festival that aims to normalise disability, Ability Fest encourages everyone, regardless of gender, disability or race to join together and celebrate live music.


100 per cent of proceeds go to the Dylan Alcott Foundation (DAF) - helping young Australians with disabilities achieve their dreams.


Since launching in December 2017, the Dylan Alcott Foundation has raised in excess of $300,000 for Australians living with a disability, with recipients ranging from seven to 25 years of age in fields such as sport, university scholarships and public speaking courses. 


Guiding a bright future


The impact of COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone, but it has been more pronounced for people living with disabilities in their everyday lives, with access to community services like day programs being largely disrupted by lockdowns.


Often these services are the only source of social interaction for people with disabilities. While I can talk to my colleagues via Teams or go for a drive around the block with my son Bailey after work, these options are not so easy for a lot of people within our community.


So when services shut down due to lockdown, it was a very confusing and isolating time for many people and the experience had a detrimental impact on their quality of life and wellbeing, particularly those who could not really understand what was going on and those who have a hard time dealing with changes to routines.


Events like Ability Fest are so important as they allow people from all walks of life - including those with disabilities - to come together and socialise, playing an important role in people’s mental health and wellbeing.

There was music to suit everyone’s taste from electronic dance beats to R’n’B.


In turn, this helps to instil confidence to take control of their future and energise them to help shape a more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable world, post COVID-19.


I feel privileged to be a part of something like Ability Fest that helps young people living with disabilities reach their potential and reach their life goals.


It’s great to encourage the next generation to make their mark in our community and be empowered to guide their own way to a bright, inclusive future.

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