A resident medical officer at the Gold Coast University Hospital is encouraging people with disability to share their story with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM (picture right) uses a wheelchair after sustaining a spinal cord injury in a traumatic car accident in 2010. He was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and the second person in Australia to graduate from medical school with quadriplegia.

The 35-year-old is now an RMO at the Gold Coast University Hospital, a lecturer at Griffith University and adjunct research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland. Dr Palipana, who also holds a law degree, recently told ABC News that after his injury, he was shocked to discover such negative attitudes towards people with disability.

Dr Palipana included some of his experiences in his submission to the Royal Commission and is urging others to share their stories. This can be submitted through the Commission’s website, over the phone, in a video or audio recording or by making a submission, including in a private session with a Commissioner, and in a preferred language, including Indigenous languages and Auslan. The Commission can provide interpreters and translators.

“Unless we speak out nothing will change. If you tell your story there’s nothing to be scared of because you’re speaking the truth,” he told ABC.

As a result of his experiences, Dr Palipana has become an advocate for inclusivity and a tireless advocate for medical students with disability. He is also the founding member of Doctors with Disabilities Australia, an ambassador for Physical Disability Australia and – when you want something done, ask a busy person - a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby team.

(Thanks to the Royal Commission’s newsletter Connect for input to this story).