Dinesh Palipana OAM – Pioneering change for International Day of People with Disability 2023

A man with dark hair wearing a black top and a stethoscope smiles to camera

Earlier this week we had the pleasure of hosting an event with Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM in the lead-up to International Day of People with Disability (IDPWD), which is officially recognised on 3 December every year.

IDPWD is an important day that raises awareness, understanding and acceptance of the 4.4 million people with disability in Australia.

Dinesh is an emergency doctor at Gold Coast University Hospital, one of the busiest EDs in the country.

But, halfway through medical school, Dinesh was involved in a horrific car accident that left him with quadriplegia. Despite this, Dinesh returned to his studies to become the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland and the second person to graduate medical school with quadriplegia in Australia.

Through adversities, Dinesh’s eyes have been opened to greater possibilities, allowing him to discover his purpose in life. Through managing depression with his doctor, Dinesh was inspired to study medicine, and following his life-changing car accident, Dinesh has pioneered the way for other people with disability to follow their career dreams.

His unique perspective of navigating the health system as both a patient and an employee with disability allows Dinesh to see his experiences as a learning opportunity for others.

Reluctant to have a social media presence, Dinesh eventually caved, understanding that “visibility in disability is important.” Through his online platform, Dinesh has challenged unfounded beliefs, and inspired others to overcome barriers.

As an advocate for inclusion in the workplace, Dinesh says it’s not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense. Studies have shown that a diverse workforce results in less absenteeism and brings together different perspectives to inspire innovation.

JobAccess, has provided on-the-job modifications for Dinesh, making his workplace environment manageable. He says though, that the biggest barrier to workplace inclusion is the human factor.

Upon reflection, Dinesh said he was “ashamed that I had no idea what life was like for someone with a disability” and understands that this may be the case for many people. It is this lack of understanding that can cause people to look for barriers when employing people with disability, rather than saying yes.

Sharing his mother’s advice to him, Dinesh says that we don’t need to change the world, but we can change the world for one person.

“Just take a shot on one person, just one at a time.”

By gradually making change we can normalise disability in the workplace, making it easier for those who follow.

Dinesh credits the “power of people” for being where he is today. Supported by people who gave him a chance and helped him remove barriers, Dinesh is working in his chosen field feeling fulfilled, happy and more capable than ever.

“Purpose is critically important, but we can face barriers in living our purpose. [Inclusivity] will enable everyone to live their purpose – live their life.”

Dinesh feels supported and accepted in his role, and not one patient has ever said, “Can I have another doctor?”

“I get to live my purpose. I get to live my ‘why’.”

We thank Dinesh for sharing his insights as a healthcare employee with disability.

At Monash Health, we are committed to breaking down barriers to employment for people with disability. Initiatives have already been rolled out under our Disability Strategy and Action Plan 2023-27 to support inclusive employment, such as our Disability Resources webpage, which can be filtered by manager resources, and Disability Confident training.

We look forward to continuing our journey to a fully inclusive workplace.

 

Approved by David Bloxham, General Manager, Communication and Engagement



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