By El Gibbs
El Gibbs is an Australian award-winning writer with a focus on disability and social issues. El has worked as a consultant for a wide range of disability and community organisations, big and small, providing expertise in strategy, policy, communications and change-making advocacy. El was formerly the Director of Media and Communications at People with Disability Australia, the national disability rights organisation. In 2023 El was appointed the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Disability Advocacy Network Australia.
I am determined to see more disabled people leading the organisations that represent us, and for more of us to be building a world that fits disabled people, rather than expecting us to fit into a non-disabled one. – El Gibbs
This article gathers examples of El Gibb’s writing and speaking. You can also find El here:
Growing up disabled in Australia, 2021
One in five Australians has a disability. And disability presents itself in many ways. In Growing Up Disabled in Australia – compiled by Carly Findlay – more than forty writers with a disability or chronic illness share their stories, in their own words. Contributors include senator Jordon Steele-John, paralympian Isis Holt, Dion Beasley, Sam Drummond, Astrid Edwards, Sarah Firth, El Gibbs, Eliza Hull, Gayle Kennedy, Carly-Jay Metcalfe, Fiona Murphy, Jessica Walton and many more.
El’s essay in the book, Growing Up Disabled in Australia, is all about what it was like coming to terms with being disabled, and how she grappled with the complexities of the social model of disability. Carly Findlay wrote about El’s contribution to the book:
El Gibbs wrote about the first few years of being sick – what happened to her, but also about how she felt and understood her illness. ‘It’s also about how I came to understand the social model of disability and the key questions that I grappled with between my impairments and disability as a social and political issue,’ she said.
Life during COVID-19 has been stressful, especially due to changing and disappearing supports, and being dependent on others.
‘I’ve actually been included much more than I have been before, as events have moved online. I hope that kind of inclusivity continues when the physical isolation comes to an end. I hope that all the events and employers who said that participating or working from home was impossible, remember that it very much is not.’ – Source
Watch an recorded online event by Better Read than Dead celebrating the release of the book, Growing Up Disabled in Australia featuring Carly Findlay and El Gibbs and other authors.
- Buy book
- Borrow book from a library near you
- Borrow book (dyslexic version) from a library near you
- Borrow audiobook from a library near you
- Watch El Gibb talk about the book with other Carly Findlay and other authors
Chapter 8 – I’m just really stubborn, El Gibbs, Blue Mountains, NSW
This chapter about El Gibbs in the book ‘The Advocates: Women within the Australian Environmental Movement’ explores El’s experiences as an environmental advocate who is passionate about climate justice and disability inclusion. El’s story begins with the People Power Blue Mountains campaign in July 2008, which aimed to stop the NSW Government’s proposal to privatize the energy sector. By building a strong community coalition, the campaign was able to overturn the Labor Party platform supporting privatisation at the 2008 ALP conference. El, who was Director of Media and Communications for People with Disability Australia at the time, argued that communities need to have the power to determine their own energy systems to reduce emissions, inequality, and disadvantage.
The story also takes us through El’s experiences as a Greens Councillor for her local government. El’s involvement with the party began in 2005, when she was attracted by the party’s focus on poverty and its platform on various social and environmental issues. As she participated in different environmental and social advocacy groups, however, she experienced a range of the challenges.
People with disabilities can be left out of environmental campaigns and protests and rallies due to physical, institutional, and attitudinal barriers. The absence of role models and mentors is shown by the lack of historical examples of Australian environmental activists with disabilities.
El’s work sought to raise awareness of these issues and develop a better pathway for disability inclusion alongside action on climate change. In particular, she has focused on the need for climate justice. This involves seeking equitable distribution of climate change burdens and benefits while centring the voices of marginalized communities, including those with disabilities.
The chapter describes the many ways she has advocated for community-led solutions that are tailored to local contexts, stepping up into the public sphere to argue for the need to integrate climate policy and climate justice into all areas of decision-making.
- Purchase book from the publisher
- Borrow from Library in Australia (click on Borrow button to see which book in Australia holds this book)
- Preview on Google Books
- Writing from El’s Website
- The Disability Pandemic, Meanjin, 2022
- Calling for climate justice for disabled people, Croakey, 2019
- A place to call home, winner of the Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Award, Inside Story, 2015
- Equal but Different, Overland, 2013
- El’s articles on The Guardian
Listen to disability rights campaigners, El Gibbs and Elly Desmarchelier, chat about how campaigns can be more effective and accessible. El also gives a great list of books to read about disability history and the importance of rest and fun.
Listen to a chat with El Gibbs about the importance of lived expertise on boards and the Disability Royal Commission findings for disability services.
El is on the board of Australian Progress and was previously on the boards of Electronic Frontiers Australia, Blue Mountains City Council and Radio Blue Mountains. El Gibbs is an award-winning writer with a focus on disability and social issues. El works as a consultant for a wide range of disability and community organisations, big and small, providing expertise in strategy, policy, communications and change-making advocacy.
El Gibbs is the Director, Media and Communications at People with Disability Australia, the national disability rights organization. PWDA is run by and for people with disability, and El is a proud disabled person. She is also an award-winning writer, focusing on disability and other social issues, and spends too much time on Twitter.
The inequality of Australia’s Pandemic Response, Richard Denniss, El Gibbs, Brendon Adams, Australia Institute Webinar, 2021
- Simpler. Faster. Fairer? Improving the NDIS – panel discussion to launch UTS Research Network – August 2021
- Closing the gap between rhetoric and reality – Melbourne Disability Institute panel discussion – December 2021
Disabled people are a mighty force. We have to fight all the time. When we fight together, we can really change things. There is a long, proud history of disabled people fighting their way out of institutions, fighting to have rights, fighting to be included, and I think that the NDIS under estimates us and it’s at their peril. – El Gibbs
- Activists - Stories_Accounts about/by Individuals
- El Gibbs
- Movements_Campaigns - People with disability
- People with disability