Levelling the playing field for people battling disabilities

Giving back

A fair society is one where organisations embrace people with disabilities, says Peter Day FCPA.

For Peter Day FCPA, an organisation with values is one that takes steps to consider how best to employ and support people with disabilities in their business.

“I have realised how little disability is talked about in corporate life and how sparse attention is given to how organisations can embrace people with disabilities,” says Day, whose impressive corporate career took him to the UK, US and Australia.

Day was deputy chairman of corporate regulator ASIC, where he helped shape government policy and changes in managing the reporting database of companies. He was also chief financial officer of Commonwealth Aluminium USA, where he jointly led a successful US$140 million public equity float.

Yet he wishes he’d been involved in more charity work during those years. “We don’t spend enough time or energy on it,” he says.

“I have realised how little disability is talked about in corporate life.”

In 2012, Day attended a week-long event run by the Cranlana Programme, an initiative of the Myer Foundation, which explored the concept of a good society. The Cranlana Programme group provides various forums where leaders from business and the community can gather to reflect on what issues are central to creating a just and sustainable society.

“It stimulated my thinking about what is a fair and just society, and opened my mind to people who are disadvantaged,” Day says.

He was already involved with multiple sclerosis (MS) charities due to his family’s experience with the disease, but the Cranlana event gave him another impetus for the work.

The 65-year-old is now a director of MS Australia and chairman of Multiple Sclerosis Limited (MSL). Day is also on the board of MSL’s subsidiary Australian Home Care, an organisation that sends 4000 to 5000 carers to homes daily.

MS is an auto-immune disease that affects more than 23,000 people in Australia. It occurs when the body’s immune cells attack parts of the nervous system, causing an inflammation that breaks down myelin, the material that covers the nerve fibres. Recurring episodes of MS leave scars on the nerve tissue, which can impair motor, sensory and cognitive functions. Ultimately, the nerves can deteriorate. As yet there is no cure, although treatments can help manage symptoms. 

MSL’s services range from first contact through to support such as physiotherapy and residential care. Day says it’s made him very aware of the impact disability has on individuals, families and the community.

At MSL, apart from the usual roles of a chairman, Day is involved in fundraising, oversight of home care services, and meeting occupational health and safety standards.

“I am part of a board with a strong social conscience that runs a charitable organisation exceedingly economically but to the highest professional standards,” he says.

MS Australia

MS Australia is the peak national body for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is a voice for the more than 23,000 people who have the disease in Australia, and supports advocacy and awareness campaigns, day-to-day services provided by its member organisations, and research for its subsidiary MS Research Australia. 

Experienced teams provide holistic assessments for people with MS, offering counselling and therapeutic support, along with practical assistance to coordinate services.

This article is from the August issue of INTHEBLACK

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August 2015

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