Notes from the judges: David Cameron on participation

When John Orcsik asked David Cameron to be involved in Focus On Ability (FOA) as a judge, David was interested straight away. As both actor and director, he’d worked with John and NOVA Employment Ambassador Paula Duncan over the years and trusted their judgement when it came to solid causes.

‘The concept interested me,’ says Cameron. ‘It’s a window. We rarely see people with disability on the screen, unfortunately. It’s a shame because there’s so much in the lived experience in terms of story, such as challenge and reward, sheer effort, humour and service.’

For David personally, FOA is a terrific outlet because he gets to see things he wouldn’t normally see. It’s the stuff he sees in life, but ‘we’re blind to it in drama. It’s getting better but it’s slow,’ he says.

When he was casting extras for TV series such as ‘Homicide’, David made an effort to cast people with disability so that the breadth and depth of society was represented. ‘It automatically made the backgrounds more authentic,’ he says. ‘It can get quite ridiculous to cast extras from a pool of actors. With many of them also working as models, it can look completely unrealistic.’

As a young man, David had a friend with Motor Neurone Disease with whom he used to go to the footy. ‘I spent an enormous amount of time lifting Robbie up the 85,000 steps at the MCG.’ This is something of an exaggeration, to indicate just how hard it was for people with physical disability before society began to respect accessibility. ‘He was an interesting bloke. A good friend. I carry that with me, I suppose.’

For people with disability, FOA is a terrific outlet because, as David says, ‘Everybody turns around and says, ‘This is about you!’ There are few moments where people with disability can celebrate life among people who understand the highs, lows, challenges and joys. It’s a night of nights for people who truly deserve the spotlight.

So what’s the last word from David Cameron, judge of FOA since it first began? ‘Ultimately it doesn’t really matter who wins, it’s about participation and celebration.’