OAM recipient won’t ‘ever stop’ advocating for women with disabilities

Carly-Anne Myers OAM. (Damjan Janevski) 384725_06

Liam McNally

Carly-Anne Myers is a Ballan woman who has almost a quarter-century’s worth of experience in the not-for-profit sector, and on January 26, she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to community health, and to people with disability.

Beginning in a volunteer role for Short Statured People of Australia (SSPA), Ms Myers has gone on to work and volunteer in senior positions for Arts Access Victoria (AAV), Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV), The Push, Genetic Support Network of Victoria (GSNV), Women’s Health Grampians (WHG) and the Royal Women’s Hospital Women’s Disability Advisory Committee.

Along with her highly accomplished career, Ms Myers also has insight into the disability sector through her lived experience as a woman with Achondroplasia, a genetic condition that affects bone growth more commonly known as Dwarfism, however, Ms Myers said she prefers to call it “short stature”.

“There are more than 400 different types of Dwarfism, my condition is the most common type,” she said.

“My husband also has Achondroplasia, his parents and brother also have Achondroplasia whereas in my family I do not have any family members with the same condition. We have a daughter, Lucinda who is ten years old, she does not have Achondroplasia.

“I identify as a proud disabled woman. As a disability activist and advocate, using my lived experience of disability, I am passionate about women with disabilities being recognised as lived experience experts especially when it comes to their healthcare.

“I believe it is crucial to centre the voices of women with disabilities and their lived experiences. This is a fundamental step towards respecting our human rights.”

Ms Myers said some of her most meaningful volunteer work is with SSPA – a non-profit organisation that provides support and information for people with conditions of dwarfism, their families and other interested members of the community.

“Collaborating with my short statured peers to create new projects and opportunities for our members, advocate on issues that affect us and capacity build our organisation so it is around for another 57 years, as well as reducing the stress of our fundraising commitments, which are, mainly directed to our annual national conventions is a privilege. I get to see and even experience the outcomes of this work,” she said.

Some of Ms Myers other proudest achievements have been co-writing an article for the community development publication New Community about genuinely, responsibly and ethically engaging women with disabilities to share their stories about abuse, publication of the WDV’s We Are Experts in Our Health resources, WHG’s Accessibility for All: Safety and Respect for Women with Disabilities in Ballarat project, advocacy work through grant procurement and providing testimony at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

She also looks fondly on co-founding the Short Arts Collective, producing a documentary for SSPA’s 50th anniversary, being recognised with the SSPA McHugh/Henderson Award, and an SSPA life-membership.

Ms Myers said her newest accolade, the OAM, is also a “great honour”.

“It has been quite a surprise, I hope to use it to promote the work of the Short Statured People of Australia as well as our incredible women’s health services across Victoria,” she said.

“I make the most of these opportunities as I feel strongly about women with disabilities sharing their lived experiences with not just the wider community but with key people who

are in positions of influence on issues that directly affect us as women with disabilities…

“I don’t think I will ever stop advocating in this space.”