Mark Bagshaw, Co–Founder

Mark Bagshaw“I want every person with a disability to have the opportunities I have had to lead a full and rewarding life. I want people with disability to believe in their own capacity, and all Australians to welcome people with disability into our wonderful society.

I’ve believed for a long time that the old hierarchical social welfare model, where a small group of people make all the decisions and people with disability are at the bottom of the pyramid receiving support, is just not the model that works.”

The Able Movement is an independent, grassroots, community based movement that activates, agitates and advocates to change attitudes about the capacity of people with a disability to participate in and contribute to our community, learning and economy.


Today, despite decades of effort, far too few people with disability are participating in society at the level at which they aspire and are able.

Australian Bureau of Statistics' Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) released 5 February 2015, shows people with disability are still less likely to be participating in the labour force than other Australians and sadly confirms that current approaches to disability are not working.

We don't accept that a 40% difference in workforce and education participation is OK. We don't accept that a person with disability can't choose where she or he lives. And we don't accept that it's OK for the community to expect so little of people with disability.

The raw numbers tell us that the traditional social welfare model has not improved outcomes for people with disability and their families.


The Able Movement is everyone. It's you, it's your family, your neighbours, your work colleagues. It's people with disability and those close to them, it's people who work in roles supporting people with disability, and it's people who know absolutely nothing about disability.

To understand The Able Movement we need to think differently to the way we might think about a more traditional organisation which is likely to have shareholders/members, a board, a CEO, executives, managers and other employees. If you looked at the organisation chart of an organisation like that you would probably see a hierarchical structure with the Board at the top, the employees at the bottom, and a lot of tiers in between.

That structure often works well for enterprises that produce "things" (computers, cars, home loans, etc), but we don't think that's the right model for disability reform. We believe decisions that need to be made that effect the lives of people with disability need to be made by them and by the communities in which we all live, work and play. Our logic is simple – every human being is different, and for every citizen to be fully included in our world, we must all embrace the diversity of humankind and understand each person's aspirations and needs.

We believe a Social Movement is the right approach. The key elements of a social movement are individuals who work with other individuals in their communities to make things happen. The Able Movement is a social movement in which individuals (Able Activists) work with other Able Activists in their communities (Able Communities) to do the things that need to be done in those communities to welcome people with disability. There is a legal entity called The Able Movement Ltd with a Board, a CEO and a small team of passionate people who donate massive amounts of their time to the Movement, but its role is to encourage, support, guide and coordinate Able Activists and Able Communities where the key decisions are made and the real work is done on the ground.

Able Communities could be communities in which people live, communities in which people work, communities drawn together by mutual interest or communities who gather around a particular culture. Most of us belong to several communities.

The following diagram shows how all these pieces fit together:

The Able Movement structure


We believe the entire disability reform process must focus on a single objective: creating a smooth pathway from the beginning to the end of every day for every individual with disability. The "average person" in our society is travelling on a superhighway of life. Most people with disabilities are travelling on the back roads. They can and want to travel on that superhighway with everyone else, and that's what all of us together can make happen.

We can do this together, by:
sharing stories of participation;
spreading the word; and
taking action where necessary to see change, in attitudes as well as on the ground.

"Raising the Bar" - The Power of Stories

This diagram shows The Able Movement logo in the centre, the two key entities that The Able Movement around that (Able Activists and Able Communities) and the three streams of the business plan – aspiration setting, thought leadership and practical innovationWe believe that the best way to convince the world that people with disability are Ready, Willing and Able to contribute the society is to tell the stories of the many people with disability who already are.

This might happen here on our website but could also be:
• simple conversations between family and friends, or over the water cooler at work;
• talking with business owners and employers to embed true equality into the recruitment process;
• petitioning governments for legislative or policy change; or
• running awareness campaigns through media channels.

This is where cultural change will happen and is our first focus. Our first initiative is a high-profile social marketing campaign telling real stories of people with disability who are already participating fully in our society and our economy. Stories told by them and those who know and love them, who live, work and play with them. Stories told by them in their own words in their own way.

Tell your story.

Thought leadership
As our community increasingly comes to believe that people with disability are just as capable of contributing to our society as anyone else, we need to come up with solutions that remove the barriers that currently prevent so many people with disability from doing so.

Thought leadership is everyone's business, and The Able Movement's Activists and Communities will work together to devise solutions and actions that help people with disability onto the superhighway of life.

Through the discussions that are taking place on our Able Forums people with and without disability will meet each other, talk through the issues and devise initiatives and projects that they will implement in their own communities, and will also develop actionable recommendations for business, government and the social sector to help them understand how they can further improve the policies and programs for which they are responsible.

Join the discussion.

Practical innovation
This is where the rubber hits the road! We know we need new ideas, new solutions, new ways of doing things to create a world in which people with disability are as capable of participating and contributing as anyone else. Our thought leadership initiatives, particularly our Able Forums, will help find those new solutions and our Able Projects will turn those ideas into action on the ground around the nation and the world.

We will also be working to accelerate the development and uptake of innovative technologies and models of service delivery to improve access to participation.

Join or start a project

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