Uli Kaplan is a disability advocate and CEO of Life is a Battlefield. He shared his experience of living with disability during COVID-19 with us– both barriers he’s faced and the benefits of getting the vaccine.
Uli was born with a number of chronic health conditions and given a zero-percent chance of making it past his second birthday. He was also born with fifty percent lung function.
In 2021, after highlighting concerns around the vaccine rollout amongst those with a disability to the Royal Commission, Uli started working with the Victorian Government to help spread awareness and address concerns, becoming a COVID-19 Vaccination Community Champion.
Uli spoke about the importance of getting vaccinated at an online information session held by ECCV’s Statewide Disability Network and COVID-19 Multicultural outreach team in November for people from migrant and refugee backgrounds living with disability and their carers.
He shared his anguish in hearing about his biological father’s COVID diagnosis and his own personal decision to get vaccinated.
“My biological parents come from a Turkish background…but I was raised by a Maltese family. I recently found out that my [biological] father is in hospital with COVID.* I’ve spent most of my life in hospital and I’ve never been close to my dad but it’s still disappointing. I don’t think he was an anti-vaxxer but I think his beliefs [made] him feel like it wasn’t a problem and that he didn’t need to get it.”
“I found comfort and acceptance that the federal government and the Victorian government would not recommend something that would be dangerous,” he said.
Uli highlighted the need for those in the service sector to approach CALD communities in an appropriate way. He also talked about the need for service providers to question their assumptions around disability and mental health.
Director Mike Woods documented Uli’s life story in ‘Life is a Battlefield’, a documentary about Uli’s courage in the face of adversity. You can watch the trailer here.
*Uli’s father later died from COVID complications.
Need more information?
ECCV has complied a number of great COVID-19 resources including in-language resources and information here.