My name is Esther Simbi and I am 36 years old. I am originally from South Sudan. I am one of six and I’m the youngest in the family. I had polio as a three year old and I now suffer from Post-Polio Syndrome as a result. I migrated to Uganda with my family in the mid 1980s as a refugee aged 6 years old. I lived in three different refugee camps in Uganda for a period of 19 years where I was exposed to violation of human rights, violence, crimes in the refugee camp, abuse, poverty, poor living conditions, starvation due to lack of food as well as lack of shelter and lack of medical attention in the refugee camp.
As a person with a disability, I have encountered first-hand experience of intolerance, judgement, abuse, bullying, and rejection but the hardships I experienced in my early life have made me to become a strong person now. I am now a proud single mother of a three year old beautiful daughter, Destiny.
I came to Australia in July 2005 as a refugee and since arriving Australia, I have managed to obtain a Bachelor Degree in Social Work at the University of South Australia. I am currently completing a Masters Degree in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at the University of South Australia.
I worked with Families SA, the Crisis Response Unit and with the Child Abuse Report Line as a Social Worker, and with Disability SA as a Social Worker, Service Coordinator, and Intake Coordinator and as a Facilitator.
I am standing for election as an Upper House Representative for Dignity for Disability in the upcoming state election on Saturday March 15th 2014. I am standing for election because it is important for South Australians to know and to understand that disability is not inability, and I want to work with the government of the day to change the culture of negativity that exists towards people with disabilities.
Issues of abuse for people with disabilities and elder abuse in the Australian society are not spoken of and this silence places children and adults with intellectual disability, for example, in a very vulnerable position. We hear of isolated cases, but it is the systemic issues that surround such examples that must be addressed. Surely every Australian has the right to live a life free of abuse and to be safe.
For so long, the rights of people with disabilities have been ignored and it is time to see that people with disabilities are included in the community and are given equal access to education, jobs and services.