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Fiona Bridger is a research assistant at DBM Consultants

This STEPtember, we took five minutes to chat with one of our research assistants, Fiona Bridger who lives with cerebral palsy.

Fiona works within the DBM Social Research team headed up by Kerry Sproston.

With a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Media Art), a Master’s in Art Administration and a Master’s in Public Policy under her belt, she says she loves her role as a researcher because she can identify problems and find solutions for them. Fiona says that her multiple degrees helped her to deepen her knowledge and experience.

“I never give up on my passions, which are art, my career, and sailing,” she says.

“I love taking photos, especially of water. Observing the movement of water really calms me down.”

Fiona is a kind, resilient and fun-loving person. She says she is a loyal friend as she strikes the right balance between being funny, cheeky and a good listener.

A proud PWD advocate

“Cerebral palsy affects my mobility and speech,” explains Fiona.

“I use a communication aid and a powered wheelchair to help me with those aspects of my life.”

Living with cerebral palsy can also affect her mental health from time to time as it can create challenges to doing things she wants to achieve in life, like her career.

“This is why I am so passionate about advocating for people with disabilities (PWD) in the workforce,” she adds.

“Australia has the lowest rate of PWD employment in the world, and I want to change that!”

Living with cerebral palsy can also affect her mental health from time to time as it can create challenges to doing things she wants to achieve in life, like her career.

“This is why I am so passionate about advocating for people with disabilities (PWD) in the workforce,” she adds.

“Australia has the lowest rate of PWD employment in the world, and I want to change that!”


Far from the truth: common misconceptions

The first thing Fiona wants to clarify is that there are four different types of cerebral palsy: Spastic, Dyskinetic, Ataxic, and Mixed cerebral palsy.

All of these have different characteristics and outcomes in people who have them,” she explains.

“In my case, I have two types: dyskinetic and ataxic.

“This means that my brain doesn’t tell my muscles what to do, like walking, talking, and other daily basic activities.”

In saying that, Fiona has a full-functioning brain like any other person, and that is where she feels a lot of the misconception actually lies.

“People sometimes can treat individuals with cerebral palsy like they are dumb or like little children, or like they cannot do anything, but that’s far from the truth,” she says.

“The truth is that people with cerebral palsy can do anything, with the exception of the limitations of the body.”

Fiona Bridger

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