Launched during Harmony Week 2024 in partnership with Koori Radio, the Speak My Language (Disability) program shared six stories from six different First Nations people living well with a disability in New South Wales.

As 38% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are living with disability, these stories are valuable resources for the community to connect with mainstream experiences that support wellbeing. 

 

Episode One: Inclusive and Accessible Education for Indigenous Australians with Disabilities

 

About the Storyteller

Dr Scott Avery is descendant from the Worimi people and is the Research and Policy Director at the First Peoples Disability Network (Australia). He is a leading scholar working in Indigenous disability, undertaking a PhD at the University of Technology Sydney on social inclusion and disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. He talks about the importance of accessibility and inclusion in education. His academic work is strengthened through his lived experience as a deaf person. 

 

Episode Two: Blind Cricket and Spinning DJ Decks

About the storyteller

Brian Edwards is a proud Wiradjuri man who became blind shortly after turning eighteen. He has worked as a disability advocate with Absec and the NDIS. Before becoming blind, he played rugby league for over a decade with the Redfern All Blacks. In this interview, Brian shares how he maintains his love for sport with Blind Cricket and now enjoys performing as a DJ. 

For more information about blind sports, visit Vision Australia's website here.

 

Episode Three: Intersectional Advocacy Improves Everyone's Wellbeing 

About the storyteller

Cass Best is a proud Gay Kamilaroi Mari from Gunnedah. Cass is a non-binary Mari living with disability. Cass is a director of BlaQ and is currently the Aboriginal Community Development Officer for SSI. Much of Cass’ advocacy focuses on intersectionality, working to create inclusive spaces for mob who are queer and live with disabilities. In this interview, Cass talks about how advocacy has not only improved their wellbeing, but has also improved inclusion and accessibility for others. 

 

Episode Four: Thriving within Neurodiversity 

About the storyteller

Gomoroi man Mat Fink has always been involved in Sydney’s art scene, first as a graffiti artist, and now as a tattooist. His Newtown based studio, Something Original, speaks to his own creative character. Diagnosed later in life with ADHD and Autism, Mat speaks about the neurodivergent experience and how it impacted his worldview.

You can find resources and information about taking care of your mental health by visiting www.headspace.org.au/yarn-safe

For 24/7 crisis support 24/7, contact 13YARN on 13 92 76 or visit their website here.

 

Episode Five: Poetry and Accessible Peer Groups for Creatives

About the storyteller

Kerri Shying is a poet of Chinese, Australian and Wiradjuri heritage, and is known for her bilingual pocketbook of poems  “sing out when you want me”, 2017,  “Elevensies”, 2018 and “Knitting Mangrove Roots” 2019. Based in Newcastle, Kerri co-covenes a bi-monthly online disability peer writing workshop group named Write Up. Kerri herself lives with disability and understands the importance of creating inclusive community spaces on and offline.

You can request to join the Write Up Facebook Page here.

Episode Six: Decolonising Academia

About the storyteller

Professor John Gilroy is a Yuin man from the NSW South Coast and is a professor of Indigenous health and disability. For most of his life, John has worked in disability and ageing research and community development with Aboriginal communities, government, and non-government stakeholders. He is the first person to create Indigenous research methodologies in disability research. John is passionate about Aboriginal owned and driven research as means to influence policy and speaks on the important role of Aboriginal academia. 

Thank you to the Gadigal Information Service and Koori Radio for partnering to deliver this powerful program through on-air conversations about living well.