Yabun Festival 2016: Annual Kevin Cook lecture – One of the greatest social justice issues facing Australia

25 January 2016

First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) CEO Damian Griffis and Chairperson Aunty Gayle Rankine will give the annual Kevin Cook lecture to open Yabun Festival on Australia Day tomorrow.

Yabun Festival is one of the largest celebrations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in the country. Held annually on 26 January on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people at Victoria Park, Camperdown, the festival has a vibrant program of arts, dance, music and speakers.

Damian Griffis and Aunty Gayle Rankine are key figures in the Aboriginal disability movement in Australia and have played critical roles in the establishment of FPDN, which is the national peak body of and for First Peoples with Disability.

Damian Griffis said: “At least fifty per cent of Indigenous Australians live with a disability or long-term health condition. Disability in Aboriginal Australia is one of the critical social justice issues in Australia today.”

The speeches will explore cultural understandings of disability, human rights, the impact of colonisation and the changing disability sector in Australia.

Note to editors

The annual Kevin Cook Lecture began in 2009 at the Yabun Festival to honour the pioneering land rights work and commitment of Aboriginal rights advocate Kevin Cook in NSW for more than 50 years.  Sadly, Kevin passed away in July 2015 however this lecture acknowledges his ongoing legacy and aims to spark debate and inspire the next generation to continue in his footsteps.

FPDN is the peak national body of and for Australia’s First Peoples with Disability. Fpdn.org.au @FPDNaus

FPDN is also hosting a stall at Yabun between 11.30am and 3.00pm.

Aunty Gayle Rankine, Chairperson First Peoples Disability Network

Gayle Rankine is Chairperson of First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) and was elected chairperson of the Indigenous Persons with Disabilities Global Network in 2015.

Gayle is a Ngarrindjeri woman born in Raukkan (formally Point McLeay Mission) on Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. Gayle has represented Australia and FPDN at the United Nations in Geneva and New York.

Gayle has extensive knowledge of the needs of people with disability across urban, rural and remote communities. She has a lived experience as a person with physical disability and as a carer of relatives with physical and neurological disability, including autism.

Damian Griffis, CEO First Peoples Disability Network

Damian Griffis is a leading advocate for the human rights of Aboriginal people with disability.

Damian is a descendant of the Worimi people. He’s the CEO of First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN Australia). FPDN is the national peak body of and for Australia’s First Peoples with disability and their families. FPDN provides a strong voice of and for Aboriginal people with disabilities. The board of FPDN is made up entirely of Aboriginal people with disability.

Damian has been a central figure in the establishment of both the Aboriginal Disability Network NSW and FPDN. Damian continues to represent Aboriginal people with disability and their families in a range of forums at a regional, national and international level.

In 2014, Damian won the Tony Fitzgerald (Community Individual) Memorial Award at the Australian Human Rights Awards.

Media Contacts FPDN:

Sara Irvine 0402 982 002

Yabun Festival:

Jake Keane 0407 530 619