The accessibility of the ballot box reflects whether our democracy is truly built on equality and fairness. Those at the greatest risk of being excluded from voting are people with disabilities, especially if they experience additional barriers of language and culture.
The Speak My Language (Disability) program has produced a series of interviews to help educate members of our multicultural communities about accessible voting.
One in five Australians live with a disability, and 20% of Australians speak a language other than English at home. We know there is an overlap within those two groups. This is why our interviews target languages like Arabic, Korean, Mandarin, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Common questions about enrolling to vote, finding disability accessible voting booths, voting in alternative ways, getting translated resources and more are covered in the Speak My Language interviews. With the federal election approaching next month, these conversations are more important than ever.
Many people may feel reluctant to vote come May 21.
Voting is a foreign experience for a lot of new migrants, especially if they are from developing and post-conflict countries. For some, participation in political decision making was not easy or even possible in their homeland.
The barriers to voting are even more complex when a person with a disability comes from one of our culturally diverse communities, as they may face additional barriers.
The Australian Electoral Commission has created resources and trained staff to try and make enrolment and voting as accessible as possible for people with different types of disabilities, from different cultural and language backgrounds. Getting this information out there is essential, which is why the Speak My Language interviews are such an important in-language resource.
We all benefit when people with disabilities, especially from diverse cultural backgrounds, get to have a say in our federal election, and voting is just the start. Many people with disabilities have helped shift Australia’s psyche by being active citizens. Getting involved in community consultations, writing to councillors or parliamentarians, submitting their experiences to Royal Commissions, serving on boards and committees, running for Local, State and Federal Government. If it weren’t for these actions, Australia’s laws, infrastructure and attitudes would not have become as inclusive as they now are, with room still to improve.
This goes to show that living well as a culturally diverse person with a disability goes hand in hand with this kind of political advocacy and activism.
You may be a person with a disability, or you may be a family member, friend, carer or professional who comes from one of Australia’s many multicultural communities. Think about sharing our interviews amongst your network before May 21. In doing so, you might make sure that this year, every vote does count.