Ausnew Home Care | Disability advocates say businesses need to lose

Disability advocates say businesses need to lose 'fear of the unknown' to find untapped potential

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When Nathan Basha was born, his parents were given three options: to "institutionalise" him, adopt him out or take him home.

The decision they made was life changing.

"By them choosing option three, 'take him home', [it] has changed my life and has enabled me to live a life full of potential."

A photo of the back of a man standing at a lectern in front of a crowd of people. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
Nathan Basha speaks to a crowd as part of his work as a disability advocate.(



Mr Basha, who lives with Down syndrome, said he found it hard to believe his parents were confronted with such a choice.

"How is it that someone can categorise a life like that?" he said.

The disability advocate, who has spoken at advocacy events, political forums and his former high school, says his current mantra is: "That's not who I am."

Mr Basha said his passion for inclusion and diversity motivated him to become an advocate, working towards achieving social change for all people. 

"I not only want to help people with disability to create change in their life, but also I want to change their mindsets around how our society perceives people with disability," he said.

'Everyone should be seen as equal'

Mr Basha is currently employed by radio station Nova FM, which he said was his dream job. 

"My job at Nova and the people I work with have provided me with meaningful employment and this has given me independence, financial security and a sense of purpose," he said.

However, Mr Basha acknowledged opportunities to gain meaningful employment could be difficult to find.

Many people with disability felt rejected, he said, as organisations were often challenged by their support needs.

"What [organisations] may not realise is a lot of people with disability often come with support or solutions to help them overcome any challenges," he said.

"Organisations and businesses need to stop putting people in boxes and recognise that everyone has their own unique potential, to lose their fear of the unknown."

A close up photo of a man wearing a bow tie and silver jacket.
Nathan Basha says he feels respected in his current role.(



When asked whether he felt comfortable being an advocate for people with a disability, Mr Basha said he could not represent everyone who had Down syndrome.

"Like any human being, we are all different and have different needs, passions and interests," he said.

"I want to continue to share my message across the world. There is still so much work to be done in raising awareness of the positive impacts and benefits of including people with disability in all aspects of our society and communities. This is a generational change that needs to take place now.

"My ultimate goal for humanity is, of course, that one day the word inclusion will not need to be used in the context of people because everyone should be seen as equal."

Removing 'systemic' barriers is key

Like Mr Basha, Alastair McEwin AM wants to achieve "systemic change in the lives of disabled people".

Formerly the national disability discrimination commissioner from July 2016 until April 2019, Mr McEwin has been appointed as a commissioner for the disability royal commission.

"To be appointed as a royal commissioner is a huge honour and comes with enormous responsibility. It is also quite different to anything I have done previously in the disability area," he said. 

A photo of Alastair McEwin in profile seated at a table with a microphone.
Alastair McEwin says taking a lead role in a royal commission is a huge honour.(



"I thrive on identifying issues, working out solutions to address those issues and then speaking out about them," Mr McEwin said.

A photo of Alastair McEwin in front of a microphone against a black background.
Alastair McEwin AM believes it is "fundamentally important" that "disabled people collaborate to achieve change in a united way".(



Over time, Mr McEwin said, his advocacy work had moved into the broader disability space.

"My lived experience is but one part of the diversity of disability. It is fundamentally important to me that disabled people collaborate to achieve change in a united way," he added. 

In June 2019, Mr McEwin made the Queen's Birthday honours list and was appointed a member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to people with disability. 

Mr McEwin said it was a huge honour and surprise to be awarded the AM. 

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