David Corner – Self Advocate representing Asia-Pacific
He was born with an intellectual disability and as a child he lived with his family. He was never put into an institution or foster home. He maintains very close contact with his family and lives an independent life in his community.
As a child he attended various primary schools and was placed in special classes at Intermediate and College. This meant that most of his school friends during his later education had an intellectual disability.
When he turned eighteen, David left school and joined IHC Services. He began his working life in a workshop and a market garden that had been set up for people with intellectual disabilities. He found out about residential services and left home to go flatting with other people. He first moved in to a big house and then in to a smaller more independent flat with friends.
In 1985 David got his first real job in the community, working a factory making fruit juice. This was his first experience working away from IHC.
In that year David also became involved in People First and went to their South Island Conference with other people from his People First Group. He has been involved with People First ever since, mostly at a local level.
David joined his local IHC Branch Committee in 1989. He was among the first of the self advocates to achieve this. Along with other people from IHC he also went to the Donald Beasley Institute Conference. The Institute do research on intellectual disability and this was the start of a long association for David with the Institute.
In 1993 David, along with another self advocate, was elected on to the IHC New Zealand Council. They were the first people with intellectual disabilities to serve on Council. The Council is responsible for the governance of IHC and David learnt a lot from this experience, He still has an interest in governance.
In 1994 David went to the Inclusion International World Congress held in New Deli, India. He took part in the Our Future-Our Way Self Advocacy Conference and the main Congress. This was his first experience of the work of Inclusion International and the international self advocacy movement.
In 1994-95 David did his Certificate in Teaching People with Disabilities at polytechnic. He was the first person with an intellectual disability to complete the course and graduate from it.
In 1996 David was employed by the IHC National Self Advocacy Team as a full time Self Advocate Adviser. This is still his current job although there have been lots of changes to the structure and staff.
In1998 David attended the International People First Conference in Alaska. This was a great opportunity to learn at first hand about the issues facing other people with disabilities. David still maintains his interest in People First and attends some of the meetings of the New Zealand People First National Committee.
In 1999 David was elected on to the New Zealand Disabled Persons Assembly National Executive Committee. He is a current member and encourages other people with intellectual disabilities to participate at both the regional and national level.
In 2002 David attended the Inclusion International World Congress in Melbourne, Australia. He was part of a large party of self advocates from New Zealand who attended the Congress.
David has been involved with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission delivering training to people with a disability. He is currently on the Association of Supported Employment New Zealand Board. He has served on the National Health Committee that wrote a national report on intellectual disability.
He has worked with the New Zealand Standards and Monitoring Board over many years. As a team member he assists in the evaluation and monitoring of services for persons with intellectual disabilities. He has recently been elected on to the New Zealand Health and Disability Commission Consumer Advisory Group.
David has a lot of experience at both the national and international level. He is keen to make a difference and to use his experience to help improve the lives of all persons with intellectual disabilities and their families.
David is very passionate about the rights for all persons with intellectual disabilities. He believes all people should enjoy the same rights regardless of disability. He believes every human being is entitled to be seen as having equal value, equal status and must be accepted for the person they are. People with intellectual disabilities must be given the opportunity to participate in community life and their participation must not be seen as just tokenism by others.
David has been elected as the Self Advocate for the Asia Pacific Region for the Council of Inclusion International.