I would like to thank Premier Daniel Andrews, Parliamentary Secretary for Schools, Tim Richardson and Advisor Liam Moloney for attending and supporting this year's Annual Gala Resilience the Courage to Fall and Rise.

Guest Speaker Jackie French, the award winners, our sponsors including Blick Creative Industries, Elite Roads, the DDF team including Event Manager Laura Coote, DDF Board Chair Christine MacJouvelet and the fundraising committee who worked tirelessly day, night and weekends non-stop for the last few months to put this year’s gala together and made it a really success. Thank you to all that donated auction items and wine for our wine wall.

This year’s theme is resilience because it takes a lot of perseverance to do what we are doing. It’s the determination that my parents installed in me that has helped me to keep going, when I have stumbled and fallen. Like many people with dyslexic it is because of our families, friends and networks that we have had the resilience and determination to keep going. But not all are as luck as me.

My partner, family, friends and networks have stood by me through this crazy journey of highs and lows through the tears, and there have been many tears, sometimes hiding under my donna cover. From a small dream to start podcasts that enable those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities the opportunity to listen to the lived experiences of their peers and to shine a light on the challenges and also the many successes of us dyslexics we have grown bigger than I ever thought possible.

None of this would have happened without the significant funds raised from last years gala that has enabled us to do the work as well as my partner, family, friends, the board and the broader dyslexic community.

So why story telling? Through the power of storytelling we can change the way people think, understand and work with those who have dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

We use story telling to:

• raise awareness

• advocate for change

• and enable those with learning disabilities to feel accepted and understood

By showing our vulnerability and our authentic selves through our dyslexia stories, we are influencing change and creating a movement, like the Shadow Minister, Trevor Watts sharing his lived-experiences, to our podcast interviews that attended on the night, the Inbars sharing their family experiences to Gemma Balardi and our Chair Christine MacJouvelet sharing so openly and honestly the challenges they faced but also their amazing, strength, resilience and courage.

These shared stories are enabling us to change lives and to open the eyes of our community and shift their mind sets and beliefs around learning disabilities. These stories highlight the challenges we are facing and we need your help to continue the vital work that we are doing so our challenges can be acknowledge and understood:

• those challenges that cause us to struggle

• to be bullied

• to be looked down upon and laughed at

• those challenges that have lead to 20% to 40% pf people into the corrections system

• those challenges that made young people disengage and disconnect from school, to adults not the get the job they so desperately wanted

• the 43% of adults who area at risk of attempting suicide because of these challenges

• the higher rates of anxiety and depression we face due to shame, fear, and embarrassment By showing our vulnerability we show people that they are not alone.

We do this work because our challenges are significant and can’t be ignored.

Shae Wissell, CEO and Founder Dear Dyslexic Foundation

Photos by the amazing talent Ines Iachelini, thank you.