Angela’s book “Me and My Brother – Stories of Special Siblings in the Macedon Ranges” was launched on 3 December 2014 (the International Day of Disability) at a celebration of family held at the Kyneton Town Hall, Victoria. At the same event, a portrait exhibition of the siblings featured in the book was opened. The exhibition “travelled” to other towns in the region over the Summer of 2014/2015.
The purpose of this community project (grant funded by the Macedon Ranges Shire Council) was to collect and tell, both in words and photographs, the stories of approximately a dozen children and adults with disability and their sibling/s living in the Macedon Ranges region, where Angela was living at the time. This was not only to increase awareness about disability in the community, but to shine a light on the complex dynamics of growing up with a sibling with disability, a topic that is given relatively little attention in disability discourse.
The twelve sibling sets featured in the project ranged in age from 1 to 75, and were of differing ages, life stages, occupations and disabilities, including autism, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and blindness. Each family had an interesting and unique perspective on disability, and how it had influenced their sibling relationship and bond.
The project was inspired by Angela’s journey through life with her younger brother, Andrew who has Down syndrome and her legal and policy work on the launch, in July 2013, of the historic launch of the NDIS in Barwon, Victoria.
“I believe that story-telling is a powerful form of advocacy, particularly in the disability context. The “Me and My Brother” project was successful because the participants appreciated the chance to tell their stories about their special sibling bonds, and talk through the real-life challenge, the joys and unexpected gifts of growing up together – and so many in the local community were genuinely interested to listen and learn”.
The sibling photographs in the book also feature the stunning natural beauty of the Macedon Ranges region of Victoria.
Since the publication of the book, Angela has been invited by local organisations and disability groups to speak about the project, to provide members and early childhood educators with insights into the disability/sibling experience.