Six and a Half Years on a Dunghill
Life in Specialist Disability Accommodation
by Peter Gibilisco
Foreword by Bruce C. Wearne
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Peter Gibilisco's aim in this book is to affirm vital principles that must be better understood and
implemented if the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is going to be of benefit and fulfill its
mandate; so that care doesn't become careless. He wants to encourage people to keep on pushing the case
for disability justice! His book is aimed at those providing a service to people with disabilities with
high support needs. He wants to address all who are involved in disability care: professionals, social
workers and especially those managing facilities that look after communities and groups of people. Peter
is giving himself a wide focus in this book, and his aim is not to win a fight, but to present a case.
Peter Gibilisco writes of his experience living with a disability and fighting for his rights. It is
a remarkable insight into the frustrations of dealing with bureaucracies for those with disabilities. Peter
describes his experiences and his views on how the lives of those with a disability can be improved by
changing processes and removing barriers. Peter is to be congratulated on this very important work.
- Professor Martin Delatycki, Medical Director, Victorian Clinical Genetics Services Director, Friedreich Ataxia Clinic, Monash Medical Centre Co-Director, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute
I have worked with Dr Peter Gibilisco over a period of about 15 years. Over that time I have watched
Peter’s amazing perseverance, admired his intellect and wondered at his ability to dispassionately scrutinise
the situation in which he finds himself. In this book you feel his frustration and raw pain as he critically
discusses being disenfranchised by the system that is meant to care for our disabled citizens. This book gives
an insight into the true grit of the man and his selfless willingness to take up the fight for the benefit of
others who find themselves without a voice. I can commend this book to anyone with an interest in our disability
- Susan Prior, Editor, Writer
Peter’s experience and knowledge provides insight into how people with disabilities are faced with growing
struggles, almost on a daily basis. I believe this book is an excellent depiction of the current state of affairs
concerning social exclusion in today’s community. I recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out more
about the political and economical landscape of today’s disability sector.
- Steffan Irugalbandara, Bachelor of Management | Master of Marketing, 2015 Graduate of the Year, Deakin University 2016 and 2017 Student Excellence, Monash University
Dr Peter Gibilisco is a social justice activist who speaks from the dual perspective of a successful academic
together with the lived experience of a progressive neurological condition which is having an increasingly devastating
impact on every aspect of his life. This book will strike a chord with people who have disabilities everywhere
especially those with severe physical disabilities living in shared supported accommodation facilities. With great
intelligence and integrity it describes the mental torture associated with a disintegration of control and
individuality worsened by factors as fundamental as a lack of empathy and continuity in the caring relationship.
It gives voice to serious shortcomings in a system that is failing many in the provision of truly individualised
- Jenny Williams, BA BSW MSW, Social Worker, Friedreich Ataxia Clinic, Monash Medical Centre
Six and a Half Years on a Dunghill is another significant contribution from Dr Peter Gibilisco to the ongoing
struggle for social, political and economic justice in the context of people with disability. Mobilising a sociological
worldview, Peter Gibilisco draws on his personal experiences, as well as the experiences and insights of others, to
highlight profound policy and structural challenges and constraints in the disability sector, and in society more
broadly, that impact negatively on people with disability. At the same time, he provides important insights into
pathways forward, based on a strong conception of the need to create an inclusive society. In particular, he highlights
the importance of action around synergy, altruism, passion, empathy and pragmatism as providing a means of moving
towards a more socially just and inclusive society. I recommend this important book authored by Dr Peter Gibilisco
to all people interested in the struggle to create a socially, politically and economically just society.
- Professor Tim Marjoribanks, Associate Dean (Research and Technology) Faculty of Business and Law Swinburne University of Technology
Written with clarity and first-hand insight, Six and a Half Years on a Dunghill tackles some incredibly important
challenges for people living with disability.
About the Author
- Adam Vogel, Associate Professor, Centre for Neuroscience of Speech (NeuS), The University of Melbourne
Friedreich’s Ataxia does not affect my intelligence, but many working in the disability sector act as if they do
not believe this. But the reality can be highlighted by my academic qualifications, which are a double degree from
Monash University, Master of Arts from Monash University and a Doctor of Philosophy from University of Melbourne. My
PhD was achieved late into the progression of my disease, when I was 43 years old. Many say to me that this was a huge
achievement, and I am aware of some taken-for-granted misunderstandings about Friedreich’s Ataxia. At the time of my
diagnosis when I was 14, medical specialists told my parents that ‘I would not live much beyond the age of thirty’.
One can only imagine their response if they were then told I would obtain a PhD! These days, I still perform research
and Melbourne university gives me honorary fellow status. I have written and published over 100 articles and currently
have now authored three books.
However, there are many degrading effects to be battled with, such as blindness, very poor speech, hearing impairment,
poor heart and limited mobility and coordination. But in all spheres of life, I’ve always tried my best; the jury is out,
but there is still some chance that my writings may create positive change.
This book has been achieved with the assistance of two very good friends, Bruce Wearne and Christina Irugalbandara.
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Six and a Half Years on a Dunghill
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