International Day of Persons with Disability

24 November 2020

Each year, the International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December to raise awareness, improve understanding and recognise the contributions that people with disability make in enriching our societies and cultures.

This important date gives us pause to reflect on how our community fosters inclusion and our progress with meaningfully engaging with people with disability.  

This year's theme, announced by the United Nations, is "Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World".  

In September 2020 Professor Ian Anderson AO (Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Student and University Experience) became the Disability Champion at ANU.  

Professor Anderson steps into the role with a well-documented commitment to equity. As ANU Disability Champion, Professor Anderson will work on how we ensure equity for people living with disability, continuing the important work of embedding equity into our daily work and teaching practices and into the broader policies of ANU. In line with the theme of this year's IDPwD, Professor Anderson is particularly eager to ensure that our recovery from the relentless challenges of 2020 have underlying values of inclusivity, equity, excellence and fairness. 

Professor Anderson is supported as ANU Disability Champion by the Australian Network on Disability (AND), of which ANU is a Platinum member. This year, AND is partnering with the global #PurpleLightUp campaign to bring us an exciting new way of celebrating IDPwD. 

On Thursday 3 December, the world's first #PurpleLightUp 24-hour Global Broadcast will kick off from the shores of Australia! The Broadcast will provide an extraordinary opportunity for people with disability, employers, champions and allies from across the world to connect with each other, share best practice, feel the power of change, and celebrate #PurpleLightUp. Register for the #PurpleLightUp Global Broadcast and stay tuned for the full line up of presentations and entertainment.  


Background: Our commitment to inclusivity, equity, excellence and fairness

Throughout 2019 and into 2020, ANU has developed its latest Disability Action Plan 2020 - 2024 (DAP), with ambitious objectives in five key areas - Policy, Employer of Choice, Education Provider of Choice, Digital Environment and Built Environment. This Plan ensures equity for our staff, students and visitors living with disability. Following the Plan being endorsed by Senior Management Group in August 2020.

To ensure the success of the DAP, Professor Anderson is committed to effective and meaningful collaboration and consultation with our community. Professor Anderson and the Disability Working Group welcome and encourage community members with lived experience of disability, whether personal experience, as a carer or an advocate, to engage with the newly formed Disability Network. You can register your interest by emailing  and by participating in events, including a town hall meeting to be led by Professor Anderson in the new year. 

One of the first steps being taken under the DAP is the completion of the Australian Network on Disability Access and Inclusion Index. The Index is Australia's foremost benchmarking tool for inclusion of people with disability and provides valuable opportunities for institutions to improve their inclusion.  The Index assesses performance against 10 key areas: Commitment; Premises; Workplace Adjustments; Communication and Marketing; Products and Services; Information Communication Technology (ICT); Recruitment and Selection; Career Development; Suppliers and Partners; and Innovation.

While we know that we are at the beginning of our journey, the Index will help us to prioritise our activity and give us a clear measure of progress and success over the coming years.