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Disability advocate Hannah Diviney to host patient symposium

Hannah works to increase visibility for people living with a disability.

Smiling woman sits with desk in background
SydneyConnect Image: Hannah Diviney

Growing up with cerebral palsy, Hannah Diviney says she saw people living with a disability represented in only two ways on television. 

The first, she says, was during the airing of the Paralympics every four years. 

The second was when road safety advertisements would point to people who now needed to use a wheelchair following traffic accidents. 

“They would often present someone ending up in a wheelchair as the worst possible case scenario, because that would mean their life as they knew it was over,” she said.  

“For someone like me, internalising that narrative of my life being over before it had even begun was really damaging.” 

Early experiences such as this inspired Hannah to push for change in how people with a disability are represented by the media. 

“I work to unpack all of the narratives that I was unconsciously taught by the world, so that the disabled kids of the future don’t have to kind of reconcile with those things psychologically,” she added. 

This mission has become Hannah’s passion and her career.  

She is now a writer and has established her own media company, Missing Perspectives, which aims to give a platform to women whose voices are often marginalised. 

She’s also an actress, having had a lead role in the SBS TV series Latecomers, and an advocate who is in demand as a public speaker at events across Australia. 

“I try and diversify and make myself as visible as possible, so that there is an alternative path offered to people like me,” she said.

She says she’s looking forward to her next role – hosting our District’s Patient and Family Experience Symposium on Tuesday 18 July. 

The event, held as part of Sydney Innovation Week (17-21 July), focuses on the stories and experiences of patients and their loved ones.   

This year's Patient and Family Experience Symposium will explore the transition from paediatric to adult care, a topic that is close to home for Hannah. 

“I'd describe the period of transition from pediatric to adult services as something of an information desert,” she said, explaining that she had to figure out a lot about her own care when she turned 18. 

“I'm really hoping now that there's a lot of learning that happens.” 

She’s also impressed by the “incredible program” for the Symposium. 

Attendees on the day will hear from speakers including Isaiah Dawe, who will talk about growing up in foster care and becoming a CEO and from youth mental health campaigner Chelsea Sidebottom; as well as young health consumers and clinicians from services across our District. 

“I really think the District has tried to think of as many intersectional experiences as possible, because obviously not every person's experience is going to be the same,” said Hannah. 

“I'm just excited to see such a diverse range of perspectives represented.” 

The Patient and Family Experience Symposium will take place on Tuesday 18 June at Sydney Education in Callan Park, Rozelle. 

Explore the full Sydney Innovation Week event program

Face to face tickets for the event have been fully booked, you can join the discussion online here.