People with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds and key industry stakeholders have gathered from around Australia to mark the official Launch of the Speak My Language (Disability) Program in Sydney on October 17.
Speak My Language (Disability) is a national initiative that involves culturally diverse Australians sharing real stories, experiences, and advice about living well with a disability.
The peak body representing multicultural communities in NSW, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW (ECCNSW), led the program in a historic partnership between all State and Territory Ethnic and Multicultural Communities' Councils across Australia.
ECCNSW Chair Peter Doukas OAM remarked on the success of this collaborative effort, stating, “this is the first time the peak bodies for Multiculturalism in each State and Territory have worked together to deliver a Program that is national in scope and impact.”
The Speak My Language (Disability) Program has produced more than 400 podcasts in over 22 languages, in addition to on-air conversations about living well with a disability in partnership with SBS Radio and local ethnic community broadcasters. Podcasts are available for free at www.speakmylanguage.com.au
The Event Launch featured a live panel with storytellers who participated in the Program, sharing insights about inclusion and accessibility.
The panelists included founder of Dance N Roll, Ms Rocca Salcedo, disability advocate, Mr Yousif Assafiri, and Chairperson of the City of Sydney's Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel, Ms Nidhi Shekaran.
Rocca, who moved to Australia from Colombia, welcomed the opportunity to speak on the panel, stating, “what Speak My Language is doing is providing a voice to minorities and breaking down barriers and stigmas.”
“To break these barriers it's important that the media gives us this space, gives us this voice and gives us exposure.”
Indian-Australian Nidhi, who is visually impaired and lives with cerebral palsy, stated that the Speak My Language (Disability) Program promotes inclusion through the power of storytelling.
“It gives me immense pleasure to actually share my story,” Nidhi stated while on the panel.
“I reckon sharing your story from a culturally and linguistically diverse background is important because it gives people a chance to get to know your culture.”
“You make people culturally aware of your disability and culture. You break stereotypes and you also enhance diversity.”
Fellow panelist, Yousif Assafiri, who comes from a Lebanese background, stated that a Program of this kind “had never been done before.”
The Launch concluded with a Korean cultural performance from Ebenezer Mission’s Orchestra and Choir, showcasing musicians with and without disability, who were featured in the Program’s Korean podcasts.
The Speak My Language (Disability) Program was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services under the Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) program.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said that ILC funded projects, like Speak My Language (Disability), will “help all Australians living with disability, regardless of if they are eligible for the NDIS or not.”
“All Australians living with disability should benefit from equal opportunity in the community and continue to be engaged and supported. We’re proud to assist with that,” Minister Rishworth said.