Introducing our 2023 Expo Ambassadors – Mike Rolls & Ben Pettingill

We’re proud to announce Mike Rolls and Ben Pettingill from Real Life Resilience as this year’s Ambassadors for the Melbourne Disability Expo. Mike and Ben are best mates who decided they could make an even bigger impact together – with their organisation focusing on mental health wellbeing and suicide prevention for those that are living with a disability. 

The pair – affectionately known as ‘Legless and Blind‘ – both hold the belief that a disability is a part of who somebody is, but doesn’t dictate what they can or can’t achieve. 

Working to build positive frameworks 

Mike and Ben regularly work to transform the mindsets of those that are currently living with a disability. Mike, for one, aims for empowerment. 

“I feel that our work really empowers those that are living with a disability. We want to make them feel like they belong in any given scenario, in society, wherever they choose to go or do.” 

Ben agrees, and especially highlights the importance of normality in those living with a disability. 

“We talk to a lot of people living with a disability, who, in most circumstances, did not choose this disability. It’s important to embrace these situations as much as possible, and not view them as an abnormality – even if this is subconscious.” 

Mike and Ben have put together several frameworks designed for those living with a disability. These frameworks aim to provoke a mindset shift from negative to positive. 

Their Sudden Change framework, for example, focuses on fact. People living with a disability may not be able to change their situation, but how can they make the most of it? 

Ben notes that people are always on different stages of their journey of living with a disability, and frameworks such as the Sudden Change framework help address this. 

“It’s important to note – where are you currently sitting on your journey? How can you get to a point of exploration, where you can really lean into your situation?” 

Mike & Ben’s story: The community-building power of expos 

Mike, having been an Ambassador of the Melbourne Disability Expo before, is no stranger to the power of these expos. 

“All the exhibitors are around to help make peoples live better, to make them easier. By going to these expos as both an attendee and an ambassador – you don’t feel different. It’s just a group of people all working towards living their best life, and it’s quite beautiful in that sense.” 

Ben also highlights the importance of connection, and how heightened this becomes at an event such as the Melbourne Disability Expo. 

“You can’t underestimate the value of what can typically be quite an isolated community of people. Those informal, light-hearted moments of connection and conversation that can happen at an expo are life changing. They might seem small, but they hold the biggest impact.” 

The disability community, united by choice 

Events such as the Melbourne Disability Expo help enhance the notion of choice, particularly within the disability community. 

Ben emphasises the importance of choice and control in those living with a disability. 

“Whether you’re born with a disability or acquire one, there are so many different systems and processes involved with the medical system. That choice, in a lot of ways, is taken away – so when expos like this one provide that sense of control, it’s huge.” 

Mike sees the Melbourne Disability Expo as an eye-opening experience for participants and families alike. 

“A lot of the technology at these expos is new. You can see what’s out there, see what’s available to you to help improve your life. It gives people living with a disability the option to choose – and there’s no better option to have.” 

The Melbourne Disability Expo brings together countless support options for people living with a disability, their families, and the wider disability community. Over 160 exhibitors will come together to demonstrate their services, including assistive technology, support work, plan management, and more.  

See Mike and Ben at our Melbourne Disability Expo, taking place on Friday the 17th & Saturday the 18th of November 2023. We work to link service and product providers with the wider disability community, allowing you to control your future and make it your choice.