Community & Me: A big day out 

Co-designing and reviewing material for Community & Me sparked an idea. The project captures the experiences of families of children with a disability outside of home. It will create resources for organisations to enhance inclusion in the community and inform the Government in this area.  

Community & Me includes a national survey, and there’s a section about taking your child to various places and activities. Museums are among the list; I thought that was a great idea. My daughter is eleven. The last time she went to an art museum was… well, I can’t remember when exactly, but she was very young and it was a program for children with disabilities. A visit was long overdue. 

Another part of the survey is PhotoVoice, where children take and upload photos to show the places or activities they like in the community. I wanted to give that a try. 

So I had a plan: I’ll take my daughter for lunch in the city and mention that we’ll go somewhere fun afterwards. I didn’t say where (The Art Gallery of NSW) because as a headstrong tween, she wants to do stuff she likes. Leaving it as a surprise made her more open to suggestions. 

As we approached the gallery, I pointed out the horse statues outside to spark interest. I also explained that there were lots of paintings inside to set expectations of what’s to come. So far, so good. 

Once inside, though, it wasn’t exactly a leisurely art-appreciating experience at first. I’d make some comments about the paintings, but she’d respond “I knooow” and zoom past them, as if she had reviewed the work many times before as a critic. So annoying but funny. 

An opportunity to slow things down came when we sat for a break and she asked to use my phone. She loves taking and looking at family photos and videos, so I had an idea that built on her interests. After she had the phone for a while, I asked: 

“Why don’t you have a look at the paintings and take a photo of the one you like the most?” 

It worked. She took more time to look at the art. After a while, she took a photo and came back. We looked at it together. The painting was of a woman at the seaside, admiring something that she picked up from the sand. 

“Why do you like that painting?” I asked. 

“Because it’s at the beach,” she replied. Indeed, she loves going to the beach. 

We had afternoon tea at the museum café and—bonus!—ended up visiting the Australian Museum nearby as well. It was lovely spending a day doing something new that was always on my mind. The Community & Me survey helped put it into action. 

Learn more about Community and Me and do the PhotoVoice project with your child

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