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Redefining stereotypes

Media release

An inspiring photographic exhibition exploring how adults with intellectual disabilities see themselves will be on show at the Bunbury Forum on Thursday, 25 October from 11am until 9pm.

Kate Povee

The exhibition is the result of a PhD project by Curtin University School of Psychology and Speech Pathology student Kate Povee, who is hoping to break down stereotypes about how people with intellectual disabilities relate to the world.

Ms Povee has collaborated with 18 members of Advocacy South West, a non-profit regional agency that works in partnership with people with disabilities who live in the southwest of Western Australia, providing each with a digital camera to take photographs expressing who they are.

“Research literature takes for granted that people with intellectual disability have a ‘stigmatised identity’, that is an identity almost dictated by their disability,” she said.

“Members of this project actively rejected the ‘disabled’ identity imposed on them by others and instead expressed a range of identities.

“Preliminary findings show that members have diverse identities, based on their personal experiences, immediate relationships and their achievements.”

The participants took photos of a wide variety of things – family, pets, friends, work, their home, their car, their hobbies and their passions, such as supporting the West Coast Eagles – with the photos used to generate discussion about their social roles and identities.

“It was interesting to learn about their stories; however, the critical message underlying this research is that people with intellectual disability have other identities, besides the ‘disabled’ label or identity the outside world imposes on them,” she said.

“I hope my research will help break down negative stereotypes and help redefine some of the assumptions underlying the research undertaken with people with intellectual disability.”


Kate Povee,  PhD Candidate, School of Psychology & Speech Pathology, Curtin University
Tel: +61 409 082 552,  Email:

Hillary Lambert, Public Relations Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9085  Email: Twitter: @CurtinPR