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Harmony Day: A day in the life of ... Joseph Pinkard

Joseph Pinkard is focused on advocating alongside people with disabilities.

Joseph Pinkard leads The Salvation Army’s National Disability Inclusion team. Salvos Online writer Simone Worthing spoke to Joseph about his role.


Can you give us an overview of your role? I provide national leadership, support and resources to Salvation Army faith communities and mission centres seeking to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.

What can a typical week involve for you? A typical week involves meeting with Salvos and listening to them about how their community is engaging with people with disabilities. I also spend time developing resources and training to support Salvos on the frontline in engaging and including people with disabilities.

What’s the most challenging part of your work? Responding to complex systemic or institutional barriers to disability inclusion. I often learn about these barriers from a person with a disability who is devastated because they are experiencing exclusion from a place where they expect to feel welcome and belonging. This can be challenging because there are no easy answers.

What’s the most rewarding? One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is facilitating a working group of Salvos with lived experience of disability who help guide ideas and actions to improve the inclusion of people with disabilities. There is a catchcry in the disability rights movement, “Nothing about us, without us”, so working with this group and co-designing resources and solutions is very rewarding.

Celebrating Harmony Week is a great way for communities to demonstrate inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians ...

What progress do you see in diversity and inclusion in the broader Australian context? There is a growing awareness that people from marginalised groups need to be at the centre of creating a more diverse and inclusive community. The voices of lived experience can help us understand what it is really like to live with a disability and should also be central in designing, developing and implementing solutions to address issues of exclusion and persecution.

What are some of the major barriers to harmony and belonging in our society? A perception that it is too hard and complex. I advocate alongside people with disability, an extremely diverse and unique cohort of people. Those with disability can often also intersect with other marginalised groups, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds, who have rates of disability similar to the rest of the population (approximately 18 per cent of Australians identify as living with a disability).

What role can Harmony Week play in our communities? Celebrating Harmony Week is a great way for communities to demonstrate inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background. In celebrating Harmony Week, we should consider how accessible celebrations are for people with disabilities.

Why does The Salvation Army, as a church, focus on diversity and inclusion? Our call as a church is grounded in what we read in the Bible and discern through prayer of God’s heart for diversity and inclusion. The diversity of humanity is held together in the belief that all people are created in God’s image (Genesis chapter 1, verse 27). When it comes to inclusion of people with disabilities in the Church, we are particularly guided by Jesus’ teaching about the inclusion of people with disabilities (Luke chapter 14) and the Apostle Paul’s teaching about the interdependence of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians chapter 12).

How does your personal faith impact your role? I have spent the last nine years of my life serving in various disability-related organisations and ministries, so in this season of my life, I feel a sense of God’s call to advocate alongside people with disability. I also draw energy and wisdom from my faith and engagement with God through reading Scripture, fellowship, prayer and reflection.


Harmony Week recognises and celebrates inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background. In preparation for the week, resources are available on mySalvos including a TSA team meeting outline. Download the resources here


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