Dice 4 Diversity wants to see all people with diverse abilities recognised in society for the enormous contributions they can make. But this can’t be achieved fully until people with diverse abilities feel confident to have their voices heard. We intend to provide participants with a confident and clear voice by teaching effective communication skills.
Through cooperative gameplay, we will teach socialisation, clear communication and responsible decision-making. Learning these skills will greatly assist teens and young adults to understand the what the wider community expects from young, socially responsible adults and how participants can become one.
Currently, the team consists of me, Ian, and my wife Tania. As parents of three children with varying degrees of social anxiety, and finding no local resources to assist them in a practical manner, we decided to couple my passion for role-play with our desire for the wider community to see the greatness and value of people with disabilities. Tania has worked as an NDIA planner and, between us, we have combined 50+ years supporting people with disabilities.
Ian Bennett – Co-Founder and Service Provider of Dice 4 Diversity
First and foremost, I am a tragic Dungeon and Dragons player and Dungeon Master who has firsthand experience of the social benefits of roleplaying and would like to share that enjoyment with you.
I’m not particularly sure how I’ve got to this point in my life. *EDIT* Actually, I am. I know exactly how I got here, but I’m enormously self-deprecating and modest. I got to this point by living inside the fire. For more than 14 years, Tania and I have had to advocate for our children against bureaucratic systems. We’ve fought the health system for appropriate treatment; the therapy system, seeking out-of-the-box solutions when no progress was made with mainstream therapy; the education system for inclusion in a mainstream classroom; the legal system for justice and the wider community for inclusion, support and acceptance. It has been difficult, infuriating and exhausting, but we never stopped and never will. The lessons we have learned from this experiences are what drive us and what we want to pass on to others.
That said, I’m a relatively successful former public servant (my old boss has said this is way too modest) who suffers from anxiety and Complex PTSD. I always had anxiety, but back in my day, without the complicated social media dynamic, it was much easier to hide my anxiety behind a façade of calm or a show of bravado. Thankfully, I was pretty gifted in physical activities and hid much of my anxiety behind successful sporting pursuits. Looking back, I wish I had role-played in high school, but I thought I was too cool (this was the 90’s and D&D still had a large stigma attached to it) and I suffered both socially and academically due to my anxiety and social awkwardness.
I worked in the public service for almost 25 years before leaving in June 2021 to run Dice 4 Diversity full time. Much of that time spent in a service delivery or support role, but the last six years were in an analytical role. My working history has provided me with extensive experience in dealing with people across a vast range of seniority, personalities and abilities. I briefed heads of departments, domestic and foreign personnel, facilitated and led discussion panels with senior officials and provided training in analytical tradecraft. Despite my social anxieties, I have been able to create constructive working relationships with co-workers and counterparts, and strong personal relationships that will last the test of time. I have previously worked in a service delivery environment both supervising and working alongside co-workers with a variety of diverse needs.
I am a father of three who all have diverse needs, in particular our middle child who has Trisomy 21, an acquired brain injury and a complex medical history. Due to this, they all have mental health issues including anxiety and C-PTSD. In addition, our daughter has significant receptive and expressive communication issues that have required me to develop dynamic communication skills to ensure we can communicate effectively.
I also have family members with diverse needs, ranging from Autism, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADD/ADHD, learning difficulties and more. This wide range of diverse needs has enabled me able to adapt to different communication requirements, including speech and reading body language. Over the past year we have found role-play has improved their communication and social skills, increasing their confidence and understanding of social norms. This has been reflected in how they now interact with the wider community in a more appropriate way.
I have over 20 years experience of engaging with adults and children with a range of communication challenges. I am well-practiced at adapting my speech, instructions and explanations to ensure individuals understand what I am saying. I fully appreciate that individualised approaches are required when communicating with groups.
I have over 10 years of sports coaching experience, covering soccer and softball. In these positions, I have coached and mentored a number of participants who have social anxiety, ASD, ADD/ADHD and other diverse needs. Throughout these roles, I’ve found connection through patience, persistence, structured activities and positive encouragement to be key components to bring out the best results.
I have a current Working With Vulnerable People card.
I am investigating my options for tertiary education in the disability field that will add to my lived experience, looking for ways to enhance the service we are providing.