Dual Paralympic swimmer and twice gold medalist, Tracy Barrell, OAM has been named as the ambassador for the Waltja Aged and Disability Festival that will take place at the Ross River Resort campground, east of Alice Springs from 3-7 October.

The Festival is a celebration and cultural exchange welcoming older Aboriginal men and women and people with disability from across central Australia. It is the only event of its kind providing cross-generational connection for Aboriginal people and active inclusion of old and young who are often excluded from cultural life due to limited mobility.

With her expertise and advocacy in the disability sector and support for indigenous Australians, Tracy Barrell is a natural fit as ambassador for the Waltja Festival.

Commenting on her role, Tracy said she was extremely honoured to be chosen to attend as the Festival’s ambassador as the event provides an opportunity for visitors to connect with culture and re-unite with family living in remote communities.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the mob, talking about my story and motivating people,” Tracy said.

“I want to be able to offer up ideas and explain to people that I’ve adapted to everything around me.

“I want to show how I get around and stay on my skateboard despite people trying to put me in a wheelchair. I can access a lot more stuff on my skateboard,” Tracy said.

The Festival is led by senior Aboriginal women, and creates inspiring good-practice resources for Aboriginal communities and organisations working with Aboriginal families, older people and people with disability and I’m really excited to be going.

The people attending will be sleeping in swags under the stars and there will be so much on offer for them including pampering sessions and a range of social activities. They will have access to support and cultural connection, as well as having all their meals provided throughout the week.

Waltja Chairperson April Martin said they are all looking forward to the event once more.

“We just want to help people to connect with others, and learn more about supports that are available to them,” she said.

Life Without Barriers (LWB) is a major supporter of the four days and together with Waltja they will host a Stakeholder Workshop Day on Thursday 8 September.

Chief Executive of LWB, Claire Robbs, said the organisation is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Waltja and to work together to deliver this unique Festival.

“Most importantly, we are privileged to be invited to attend and host people at the event who we know and support through our Disability Services, and programs supporting older people,” Ms Robbs said.

“We have also been calling on the wider community and corporate supporters to make a donation or consider becoming a sponsor of the event so that we can help more men and women attend.

When asked about what she would like to do at the Festival, Tracy said that she was open to anything and everything.

“I’m up for new experiences and want to see that mob and what they do. I’m so excited I get goose bumps,” Tracy concluded.

The Festival is organised by Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi, an Aboriginal organisation governed by senior Aboriginal women from remote communities across central Australia. Waltja’s work has focused on the establishment of culturally appropriate services in remote communities, including early childhood services and youth programs, aged care and disability services, emergency relief and financial literacy.

Waltja has continually supported the self-determination of Aboriginal people and has supported other Aboriginal organisations and social enterprises.

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