Newcastle is Making Waves for International Disability Day

Making Waves Foundation (MWF) will launch its sail-based programs permanently in Newcastle on December 2, 2021, coinciding with International Day for Persons with a Disability.

This program will give more than 1,000 Newcastle and Hunter region students and people living with disability and disadvantage, access to exhilarating educational and life-broadening challenges on board an ocean racing yacht, every year.

One of those heavily involved in this venture is Tony Purkiss. Tony is a well-known identity in the Newcastle area. He’s a businessman, a sailor, a volunteer and an amazing advocate for Making Waves Foundation. Tony lost his sight in the 2005 Bali bombing, however through his involvement with the Foundation, he has gone on to help so many more people living with disability.

Tony and his wife May-Anne have been volunteering with MWF for more than 15 years. Tony says that sharing the joy of the water in a specially-adapted ocean racing yacht for people with disability, has been immensely rewarding.

Making Waves has been visiting Newcastle for one week every year since the early 2000’s, having previously been limited to taking just 50-100 children sailing each year.

Khym Harris, Head Teacher of the Support Unit at Newcastle High School says that the impacts of MWF programs on her students have been immeasurable. ‘They are so much more resilient and willing to take a risk. They become little problem solvers instead of problem makers. They start to solution seek.’

‘We can’t wait to share this program with so many more of our students now that Making Waves has come to Newcastle on a permanent basis.’

Making Waves Foundation has taken more than 50,000 disabled and disadvantaged young people sailing over the past 27 years. Their lives and outlook for the future change through these experiences.

Establishing Making Waves in Newcastle would not be possible without the significant financial support of a Newcastle-based private benefactor and local businesses. One of these is Port Waratah Coal Services. According to Port Waratah ceo, Hennie du Plooy, this project addresses an increasing area of need within the community.

“Access to programs that challenge barriers, encourages and builds confidence in young people living with a disability or disadvantage can change lives and improve inclusion outcomes in our community,” said Mr du Plooy.

This year’s International Day for People with a Disability theme highlights the challenges, barriers and opportunities for people who live with disabilities, in the context of a global pandemic.

Making Waves Foundation addresses this theme perfectly. The program breaks down accessibility barriers and provide experiences and opportunities that otherwise are closed to people living with disabilities.

In Khym Harris’s words, ‘MWF is not merely a good thing; it is essential. It needs to be bottled!’