Here’s what I submitted, which will probably be on the QLD website, most probably on Monday.
My name is Todd Winther, I am 25 years old, and live on the Sunshine Coast. I live my life more or less as if I’m not disabled. It is easier said than done given the fact that I am confined to an electric wheelchair and can’t manage my own personal care. Life is challenging because of this, but not difficult. Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine what difficulty is, because my life is not difficult.
When I was diagnosed at eight months of age the initial prognosis was almost entirely negative. I would not talk, I would not feed myself. I would not become as independent as possible. I would not become a valued member of the community, I would simply make up the numbers. Thankfully, I have proven this prognosis wrong on the first three counts thanks to the support of my family and friends and have sought to prove the other two wrong as well. I believe because of my disability and the challenges that I face that it is my responsibility to contribute to the future of my local community as well as the nation as a whole.
My passion is politics, it has been since the beginning of high school. I have realised and understood that becoming involved in decision making processes is the only way to influence change on both a large and small scale. This is particularly the case in the disability sector where I have the opportunity to advocate for others who do not have the ability to do it for themselves.
I approach politics from two angles, the practical and the theoretical. On a practical level, I am a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) where I am president of my local Kawana Branch. This has allowed me to continue a dialog with State and Federal politicians within the public policy process about the issues that I believe in, and importantly the issues that I confront on a daily basis that are pushed continually to the margins. However it is in the theoretical realm, where I intend to carve out a career. I am currently studying a PhD in political science and public policy at Griffith University on a full scholarship. Currently, I am writing a thesis on the relationship between political leadership and political parties.
Outside these pursuits I work as a casual tutor at the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) where I have two other degrees. I teach both introductory and advance level courses in political science. When students first come into the classroom they see a guy in a wheelchair, when they leave I hope they get a sense of how the political system when used in the correct fashion can challenge conventions, just as I
I am not defined by my disability and I never will be. I seek to prove to myself that the reason that I was confronted with my physical challenges is to make a difference to society at large. It is not enough to challenge one person’s preconceptions about people with disabilities. To challenge the entire nation’s attitude is a much tougher task, but far more rewarding.
Update 30/09: The essay was rejected by the Cerebral Palsy League because I dared to mention that I belonged to the ALP. So much for promoting inclusion! The ALP has done more for me then these charities ever have or ever will. It just goes to prove that I should have stuck to the original draft, and that all my previous points were proved correct.