VICTOR HARBOR WOMAN BECOMES SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S FIRST COUNCILLOR WHO IS BLIND
Source: ABC News (Extract)
Posted: November 17, 2022
Victor Harbor woman Angela Schiller has become South Australia’s first councillor who is blind following this week’s local government elections.
The new City of Victor Harbor representative said it was critical to have people with lived experience of disability in such positions.
“There’s two parts to it,” she said.
“Also, just by me being in the chamber other councillors will get a greater understanding about disability.”
A long-time advocate for inclusion
The experienced manager and advocate spent ten years on the City of Victor Harbor’s Disability Access and Inclusion Committee, but decided to take the leap and stand for election this year.
She considered running four years earlier, but had to put her plans on hold for medical reasons.
This time around she had no hesitation.
“So I thought, well this time I’m going to go for it.
“My husband’s been a stoic guy. He’s been getting me out and about and I’ve been getting myself out there.”
Community service runs in the family
Cr Schiller also has the support of her two children and family.
Her father Gary was a Pinnaroo District Council representative in the 1990s and her brother recently served as deputy mayor of the Southern Mallee District Council.
Cr Schiller ran with the slogan ‘seeing things differently’ and campaigned tirelessly, attending a heavy schedule of “meet the candidate” events.
“I had something to prove as a person with a disability and so I threw myself into it pretty heavily,” she said.
“[When] people actually see me in action using adaptive technology, they’ll get to see that I can achieve what I want to do.”
Cr Schiller said one of the big issues she wanted to tackle during her time on council was transport — particularly for people who use wheelchairs.
“They have a lot of trouble here in the Fleurieu area because you can’t just jump in a taxi when you’re a wheelchair user,” she said.
Cr Schiller is a frequent user of taxis and the Link bus service in the area.
“There are a lot of issues,” she said.
Experienced in business
Cr Schiller’s guide dog Oreo will be at all her council meetings.
“He’ll probably groan a bit here and there and make some noises,” she said.
“He’s been to many a meeting. In fact he went yesterday to a meeting at the Local Government Association … he had a nice day out and got to meet another guide dog there and have a little bit of a chat.”
Cr Schiller is also keen to promote economic development, having run her own wholesale and retail nursery in the past.
“I did that for a number of years until my sight deteriorated to a point where it was starting to get a bit harder and I was trying to manage a nursery and young children,” she said.
“So I decided to sell it, but I really enjoyed that and learnt a lot about running a business.”
Cr Schiller has been legally blind since birth and had significant vision loss as a child.
“Then about 12 years ago it got to the point where I couldn’t see anymore,” she said.
“I can see the light, but I can’t see anything other than the glare of the light streaming through the window.”
Cr Schiller will make South Australian history when she attends her first council meeting on 28 November.
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