Laura Pettemuzzo, a woman with dark hair sitting in a wheelchair wearing a green dress, smiling.

Supporting the disabled community on International Day of People with Disability

Laura Pettenuzzo is a guest blogger, a writer with cerebral palsy and a disability advocate living on Wurundjeri country. Passionate about accessibility, Laura writes Plain and Easy English content for various organisations, and her words have appeared in places like ABC, SBS and The Age.  


Since 1992, December 3 has been recognised as International Day of People with Disability, or IDPwD for short. The day aims to foster awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. It is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of disabled people, to counter the pervasive and often harmful narratives that exist about us.

The theme for 2023 invites all of us to work to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) to create a safer and more equitable world for people with disability. Ironically, the theme is complex and abstract and therefore potentially inaccessible, not just for the 4.4 million people in Australia with disability but for the 44% of people in Australia who, for various reasons, have low levels of literacy.

Instead, this year, I encourage you to celebrate IDPwD in whatever way feels right for you. It’s a Sunday, so I’m going to listen to my body and rest. In between naps, I intend to read Broke, a memoir by disabled advocate Sam Drummond and listen to Differently Brained, a podcast by disabled writer Jacinta Dietrich. And, of course, I’ll specifically celebrate other people with CP. I’ll read articles by Rebecca Turner and Nicole Smith. I’ll listen to Hannah Diviney’s Missing Perspectives and Peta Hooke’s I Can’t Stand podcasts and I’ll do some Googling, because I know there are so many more content creators for CP that I can discover.

How are you going to celebrate IDPwD in 2023? You might watch Elly May Barnes talk about her experiences as a person with CP on ABC’s Australian Story, engage with content by disabled people on social media or look into some of the other media I mentioned.

If you’re a family member or friend to a disabled person, this day is a chance for you to show your allyship. It’s a chance for you to listen and learn.

If you’re disabled like me, IDPwD is for you. I hope you know every day, not just on IDPwD, that you are part of a supportive, powerful community. That your access needs deserve to be met, that you deserve a world built with and for you. That your words and feelings and experiences matter. Maybe you’re not sure how you feel about your disability right now or maybe you’re not ready to identify as disabled just yet. Maybe you’re still struggling to find your place. Happy IDPwD to me, and to you. I’m celebrating us today, and all the days that follow.