There are plenty of misconceptions about what is means to parent with a disability. It’s exactly these misconceptions that Eliza Hull wanted to dispel with her series ‘We’ve Got This’ for ABC Radio National. As the inaugural winner of the ABC’s Regional Storyteller Scholarship, Eliza wanted to tell authentic stories of parenting with a disability.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Eliza Hull, and I am a mother with a physical disability. I live in Castlemaine with my husband Karl, and my four-year-old daughter Isobel. I have a neurological condition, ‘Charcot Marie Tooth’, which affects my nervous system.

I’m also a singer and songwriter, and have written music for TV, theatre and film. Recently I produced the series ‘We’ve Got This’ for ABC Radio National Life Matters and ABC Life about parenting with a disability.

 

You were the inaugural recipient of the ABC’s Regional Storyteller Scholarship for 2018, can you tell us about that program?

The Regional Storyteller Scholarship is an ABC initiative. The scholarship is for an emerging storyteller with a project idea, who has a disability and is rural/regionally located. This year they’re offering two more scholarships, which is fantastic. I believe it’s important for disabled people to share their own stories and ideas, and these scholarships enable that.

 

What inspired the development of ‘We’ve Got This’?

When I was pregnant five years ago, I felt unrepresented. In all the stacks of parenting books I was given, there were no mums like me. In fact, there were no parents with disabilities at all. I wanted to feel represented, and know what it was going to be like to be a parent with a disability. ‘We’ve Got This’ is a series which aimed at changing this, by sharing the stories of parents with disabilities in a way that could accurately represent their lives, and didn’t over sensationalise their stories.

I wanted to change some of the misconceptions that people have about parenting with a disability. There are still a lot of barriers, and most come out within the wider society. I believe there is still a societal view that parents with disabilities can’t look after children. This is especially the case for parents with intellectual disabilities. I wanted to show that parents with disabilities are successfully parenting, in fact they’re actually thriving.

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Eliza Hull produced the Radio National series ‘We’ve Got This’ about parenting with a disability. Image: supplied.

What has the response to ‘We’ve Got This’ been like?

It’s been overwhelming. I didn’t realise how much these stories were going to resonate with people. I think it’s a really timely subject, and this is due to the fact that there still isn’t a lot of representation of parents with disabilities out there. My favourite responses have been when people write to me and say that the series changed their perceptions.

I remember one email in particular from a lady who said she held the view that parents with intellectual disabilities shouldn’t be allowed to keep their children, and that hearing first hand from parents with intellectual disabilities she now holds the opposite view and believes that we should support parents with intellectual disabilities to keep their children. This was incredible, seeing this kind of change happen. It’s been incredible to have such a huge amount of support from other media organisations as well, including the BBC and Channel 9’s The Today Show, who have both asked for interviews in regard to the series.

 

What did you want listeners to get from the series?

I want listeners to gain a greater understanding of what it means to be a parent with a disability. I want them to be challenged, and gain a different perspective. Parents with disabilities are successfully parenting, I hope these stories will show that.

 

How important is it that people with disabilities have the space to tell their own stories in their own words?

It’s incredibly important, it’s the only way we will be able to change the misconceptions that still exist of what it means to be disabled. It enables the chance for stereotypes to be eliminated instead of reinforced.

 

What was the experience of producing ‘We’ve Got This’ like for you?

The experience was life changing. That may sound dramatic, but it’s actually completely honest. It enabled me to learn more about myself as a disabled woman, and parent and gave me such invaluable skills and experience. I felt very empowered by the ABC to make the series that I had envisioned and for that I am very grateful. Also, I made lifelong friends with the other parents that I interviewed so that is a bonus!

 

And, finally, do you have any podcast recommendations?

You can find ‘We’ve Got This’ wherever you listen to podcasts or on the ABC Radio National Life Matters website.

 

Ready to read more? Try these Inform links:

5 podcasts about disability

Getting the ball rolling: Q&A with Rosie Jenes

Human connection: friendships & mental health

 

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