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Will you take a SIP?

Gold Coast radio host and Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM prepare to take the SIP Week Challenge.

SIP Week’ challenges participants to sip all their drinks through a straw for seven days, beginning Monday 6 September.

It’s designed for the community to get a small taste of what life is like for those living with spinal cord injuries.

Doctor, lawyer and disability advocate Dinesh Palipana works in the Emergency Department at the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service, and is heavily involved with spinal cord injury research.

A car accident in 2010 left him paralysed, but Dinesh believes initiatives like the SIP Week Challenge are about keeping the hope alive for a paralysis cure.

“From the moment I had the accident, I was looking at whether there would be a cure one day,” he said.

“That hope is so important for everyone – the hope that, particularly in the early stages of having an accident like this or an injury like this, there’s going to be a better tomorrow.”

More than 20,000 Australians are living with spinal cord injuries, and the issues faced are not limited to mobility problems and wheelchair usage. Dinesh, for example, also experiences poor lung function.

“It’s about 35% of what’s expected of someone my height and age.

“There are social issues that come with it as well like education, employment and even healthcare. During COVID-19 people with disabilities are facing all these challenges.”

Dinesh is also a QLS Diverse Abilities Network (DAN) member. The DAN seeks to create awareness of diverse abilities, take leadership in effecting change and shine a light on inclusion within the legal profession.

Personal injury lawyer and fellow DAN member Ashleigh DoRozario is also participating in the challenge next week, and is excited about the opportunity it provides to work towards spinal cord injury therapies.


Ashleigh DoRozario and Dinesh Palipana at the Banco Court.

Ashleigh is legally blind and although she has an insight into living with an impairment, she emphasises the capability legal practitioners with diverse abilities and impairments have.

“Our profession is so traditional that people don’t necessarily accept our capability or see our diverse ability,” she said.

“Some people focus on disability as being a negative and therefore immediately discount how capable we are at performing our jobs.”

Having participated in last year’s SIP Week Challenge, she couldn’t recommend it more highly, but warns it’s not as easy as it may sound… particularly if you’re a coffee lover!

To accept the 2021 SIP Week Challenge or to support the cause, visit the website.

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