Sydney resident Digby Webster is a talented artist who dreams of one day moving out of home. His friend Tom Elenor fantasizes about stardom but struggles with the responsibilities that come with living independently. Award-winning actress Tracie Sammut now wants to teach acting and put a stop to industry stereotyping. Each share a disability that society doesn’t always understand, or accommodate. As they take their first strides towards independence, they face new challenges and opportunities that will test their resolve. In their struggle to find a balance between dreams and reality, can they fly – or will they fall?
Flying Solo is a social impact film that aims to inspire change around a widespread lack of access to supported accommodation options for people with intellectual disabilities, ensuring everyone has access to housing that is adequate to their needs and the ability to live independently.
As aging carers retire or pass away, thousands of adults with intellectual disabilities are often left homeless and end up being placed in the care of group homes – with devastating effects. Firstly, relocation can disrupt relationships and local knowledge, which provide a foundation for skills such individuals and their carers have fought long and hard to develop. Secondly, group homes by design are not conducive to independence, and more often than not lead to restricted lifestyles and poor quality of life. Alternate housing models like supported accommodation on the other hand enable people with intellectual disabilities to remain in their communities and to live a largely independent lifestyle.
Secondly, group homes by design are not conducive to independence, and more often than not lead to restricted lifestyles and poor quality of life. Alternate housing models like supported accommodation, on the other hand, enable people with intellectual disabilities to remain in their communities and to live a largely independent lifestyle.
An Australian study concluded in 2009 that many adults with intellectual disability
live desperate and lonely lives of exclusion and isolation. The institutions that once housed them may be closed, but the inequity remains…Australians with disabilities now find themselves socially, culturally and politically isolated.*
Good housing is essential for productive and meaningful engagement in life roles, which is in turn key to long-term stability and mental health. By building more local supported accommodation, communities are ensuring their most vulnerable members have access to housing that allows them to maintain relationships, knowledge and skills. It not only improves their chance of functioning independently, but empowers them to be contributing members of society.
We owe it to people like Digby, Tom and Tracie to ensure their needs are properly addressed by community and government policy decisions. It is my hope that this film will help stimulate debate, catalyze change and address this global shortfall in housing options, thereby supporting happy, healthy, independent futures for all people with intellectual disabilities.
Our desire in making the film is to inspire social change and community engagement surrounding the global shortfall in supported accommodation for those with intellectual disabilities. Education and outreach is thus fundamental to altering perceptions about intellectual disability and placing disability housing on the public and political agenda.
Our education strategy will involve:
Our outreach strategy will target communities with is a high concentration of adults with intellectual disability, as well as council representatives and federal and state ministers, lobbing for policy changes in favor of building more local supported accommodation. We aim to spread word via email, targeted Facebook ads, newsletters and screener kits (for community groups seeing to fund raise or spread awareness about the cause).
We hope to form partnerships with NGOs that share our cause, harnessing their existing networks and the help of their marketing teams. These NGOs will help drive the film’s campaign launch, which will coincide with International Day of People with a Disability (December 3), so as to attract mainstream media publicity and raise awareness about our cause.
* Australian Government Department of Social Services. (2009). SHUT OUT: The Experience of People with Disabilities and their Families in Australia. Canberra, ACT.