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Canberra Today 15°/19° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Charlotte: ‘People think I can’t do things I know I can’

ACT Employment Ambassador for the ACT Down Syndrome Association Charlotte Bailey… “When people ask me what it’s like to have down syndrome, I say it’s just like normal, it’s me.”

CHARLOTTE Bailey is just like any other 23 year old, she loves keeping up with TikTok dance trends, playing netball, catching up with her friends over Grease Monkey burgers, and playing with her black labrador, Zoe.

Joanne Farrell, 2024 ACT Australian of the Year, with Charlotte Bailey.

She has worked for Eastlake Football Club for more than five years, and has been the ACT Employment Ambassador for the ACT Down Syndrome Association since 2020, which she says makes her very proud.

“My role as Employment Ambassador sees me talking with employers to show them people with Down Syndrome can absolutely, with the right support, do any job,” she says.

“At Eastlake I’m a coffee barista, I serve meals and I take orders.

“With the Down Syndrome Association, I work in admin, as well as being the receptionist. I take recycling out, answer emails, organise birthday cards, answer the phone and sort the mail.

“I can work independently, I had to work from home during COVID-19 lockdowns, I am very capable.”

Her message to employers is that employing someone with a disability in any job can make their dreams come true.

“Down syndrome is the triplicate of the 21st chromosome,” she says.

“When people ask me what it’s like to have down syndrome, I say it’s just like normal, it’s me.

“I have a job, I go out to movies, I can do everything just like everyone else can, but because I have a disability people think I can’t do things, I know I can.”

Born in Sydney, Charlotte’s family moved to Canberra when she was three.

“I went to Turner Primary School,” she says.

“Then Black Mountain for high school, and now I live in McKellar.

“I also have a brother, and two sisters, but I am the oldest, and I am very capable, too.”

Charlotte’s most recent achievement was being nominated as a finalist in the 2024 ACT Young Australian of the Year awards.

“I was just in shock, but very excited, too,” she says.

“I had a beautiful blue dress on from Myer for the awards night, and I danced and met lots of interesting people. I had such a great night, and I got a photo with Joanne Farrell who won the 2024 ACT Australian of the Year.

“I loved the music too, it was Daydream Machine, who are Canberra neurodivergent people between nine years old and 21, exploring and performing their musical talents.”

It is another incredible achievement, Charlotte says, for her to add to her growing list.

“In 2022, on World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, I addressed the United Nations and spoke to them about employment for people with down syndrome,” she says.

“Last year I also won the Emerging Young Leader at the Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards, and I got a commendation, runner up as Canberra Young Citizen of the Year.

“My advice to young people is to come and see me, come and see the ACT Down Syndrome Association, we can and will help people with intellectual disabilities to get jobs.”

When she is not flat out busy advocating, Charlotte enjoys being active in her down time.

“I listen, dance and sing to Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, they are the best,” she says.

“I also play netball, my team is called the Marie Little Shield, and it’s a team for adult women with an intellectual disability in Canberra, and we represent the ACT nationally.

“We got to go to Melbourne this year in September, and we did pretty well.

“And I do bowling in the Special Olympics, and I’m pretty good at that too, and it’s fun.”

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Ian Meikle, editor

Lily Pass

Lily Pass

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