Midsumma Matters: Radical Acts of Joy and Gathering


Queer disabled artists unpack community, connection, identity and arts practise

This panel have been programmed in collaboration with the Midsumma Pathways Advisory Group and will feature a line-up of queer disabled artists as they unpack community, connection, identity and arts practise.

Facilitated by community leader and international award-winning disability advocate and activist Akii Ngo, the panel features celebrated artists and Pathways alumni Jamila Main (who luckily for us is now Naarm-based) and Patrick Gunasekera (all the way from Boorloo / Perth) alongside Deaf, Gay/Queer creative producer and director Sam Martin, and CEO of Arts Access Victoria Caroline Bowditch.

The panelists, whose lived experiences reflect a range of perspectives on arts practise, disability, neurodiversity, cultural identity and chronic illness will explore their experiences of queer joy and gathering through the lens of their diverse arts practices and community engagement.

Please note: Visual descriptions and audio introductions of speakers, artists, acts and displays are integrated into this event, enhancing accessibility for blind and low vision audiences attending.

This event is Auslan interpreted.

A Describer Guide will be on site and available for one-on-one tailored descriptions, assistance and guiding.

A small Quiet Room will be available throughout the day, close to the accessible bathrooms.

If you require further information or assistance on the day, please speak to one of Midsumma's friendly volunteers, or, you can text or call 0437 557 109 on event day.



A person dressed in a colourful checked dress with colourful hair sitting in a wheelchairAkii is a community leader and international multi-award-winning disability, gender equity advocate and activist, who is truly passionate about disability rights, intersectionality, inclusion and co-design. They are a proud, young, disabled, trans non-binary and LGBTIQA+/Queer person of colour.

Akii is an experienced consultant, trainer, educator and presenter. Akii is the Accessibility Manager at Sydney World Pride & Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and a Senior Co-design & Engagement Advisor at the National Disability Insurance Agency. Akii is also an elected Councillor on the Victorian Disability Council.

A first-generation Aussie from a refugee background, who lives with multiple complex chronic illnesses and disabilities. An intimate partner (IPV) and family violence (FV) survivor-advocate, who sits on several advisory committees and working groups across Australia within the health, violence-prevention, LGBTIQA+ and human rights sectors. Advising, educating, training and providing genuine, co-designed & lived experience consultations for a diverse range of DEI, disability, accessibility, gender equity, violence prevention and human rights causes.

One of Akii's main motivators for gender equity, equality and diverse leadership and empowerment opportunities is fueled by Akii's lived experience of IPV and FV. Many stories of which Akii has bravely shared publicly in their extensive violence prevention work, as people with disability, particularly girls, women, femme-presenting/identifying and non-binary, are disproportionately impacted by all forms of violence (i.e physical, emotional, financial, co-erceive control, sexual and reproductive).

Akii is deeply dedicated to accessibility, universal design, non-tokenistic representation and is a fierce advocate for people with chronic pain, chronic illness, and disabilities (apparent or hidden) due to their own lifetime of lived experiences.

Furthermore, Akii is also an experienced, agency-represented and internationally published model and actor – working to challenge the perception and create a positive change within the media, fashion and beauty industry for appearance diversity (i.e. surgical scars), disabled individuals, young people, mobility aid users, trans, gender-diverse and POC (people of colour) communities.

Chief Executive Officer(CEO) / Artistic Director(AD)

After 16 years living and working in the UK, Caroline returned to Australia in July 2018 to take up the role as CEO at Arts Access Victoria. She is best known as a performer, maker, teacher, speaker, and mosquito buzzing in the ears of the arts industry in the UK and further afield.

Caroline is a regular consultant on access and inclusion internationally, and has also led international residencies in Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. She is regularly invited to mentor local, national, and international artists at all levels of their artistic development. With the support of the Australia Council for the Arts, Caroline took part in the prestigious CEO Leadership course at Harvard Business School in 2019-2020.

Under Caroline’s leadership AAV has developed key partnerships with major arts and cultural organisations, strengthened AAV’s financial position and transformed AAV into a disability-led organization at every level of operation.


Jamila Main is a prolific actor and award-winning playwright making performance works infused with the survivalist humour of living in a queer, disabled body in chronic pain. Writing and performing for the stage, screen, and livestream since 2016, Jamila is a “delightfully fresh powerhouse of talent” (The Advertiser) and “one heck of a theatre innovator” (Time Out Sydney). Jamila’s work is largely a tender, joyful, and raw examination of queer, disabled love and pain that straddles live and remote performance.

Leading companies Jamila has worked with include Sydney Theatre Company, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre Company, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Back to Back Theatre, ArtsHouse, La Mama, Midsumma Festival, Vitalstatistix, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Riverland Youth Theatre, and Carclew. Jamila also performs as Ivy Drip, a wheelchair dancing diva, and provides disability access and inclusion consultation.

Photo of Patrick sitting on the floor with a walker frame behind themPatrick Gunasekera is a young writer, performer, and theatre artist of Sri Lankan migrant heritage, living and working on Whadjuk Noongar Boodjar. With evolving practices as an actor, dancer, singer, and pianist, his work explores how people become complicit in violence, and what agency means from marginalised positions. He is also a poet and award-winning essayist, with a passion for putting language to and transforming legacies of intergenerational trauma. He is currently revisiting the work of historical neurodivergent artists through an empathetic lens, and adapting his non-institutional cultural contexts into theatre and writing methodologies. Since 2019, he has proudly offered nuanced and ambitious coverage of underrepresented cultural work as an arts journalist in Boorloo (Perth).

Headshot of Sam Martin - black and white photoSam Martin (He/Him) is a Deaf, Gay/Queer creative producer and director dedicated to authentic storytelling, empowerment, and inclusivity. From the successful debut of his theatre show "Sam I Am" to his short documentary "Deafying Gravity," Sam's diverse projects break barriers and unite communities. His groundbreaking event, PAH! Stories, received the Melbourne Fringe Access Award, showcasing Sam's unwavering commitment to accessible storytelling. Sam is also a board member of Arts Access Victoria.

Event & ticketing details



Audio Described
Auslan Interpreted
Wheelchair Access
Vision Rating less than 50%

Dates & Times

WHEN Sat 3 Feb 11am
AUSLAN Sat 3 Feb 11am
AUDIO DESC Sat 3 Feb 11am
DURATION 1hr 30m


FREE Free event, but booking is required


Fed Square - The Edge

Flinders St, Melbourne

Get directions


Flinders Street


35, 70, 75 to stop 5 (Swanston St/Flinders St) or stop 6 (Russell St/Flinders St) | Any Swanston St tram to stop 13 (Federation Square)

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