International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) is held on 3 December each year. This United Nations observed day, celebrated around the world, aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability and celebrate their achievements and contributions. The theme for IDPwD 2021 is ‘Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world’. The Speak My Language (Disability) program promotes this goal as we share stories and information about culturally diverse communities living well with a disability. Through the power of storytelling, we are making contemporary multicultural Australia a more inclusive place to live.
Over the course of the program, diverse people living with a disability have shared what living well means to them. They have shared stories, experiences and resources about their passions, hobbies, education and employment. One participant, Asha, was interviewed in Somali to share her experience of attending university for the first time. In her story, "My Journey to Success," Asha explained how the accessibility of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology allowed her to pursue her Masters’ degree.
"Really, I was very happy because I always liked education, and my life-long dream to start university has come true. I attended orientation week to get information about class timetables and how the university supports people with disability. Also, to meet with teachers and see lecture theatres, the library, and it was a great moment in my life."
Similarly, other participants shared how inclusive community attitudes and accessible employment opportunities helped them find work and make use of their natural talents. One Turkish Australian participant, Evren,* was able to use her mathematical skills for work through resources at her local Council.
"I discussed with my doctor who had been treating me since my arrival in Australia and who also helped me get my hearing-aid from the government for her opinion. I knew her for many years. She told me to go to the council where we reside. Truly, they were very helpful at the Council. I even found my first job with the help of the Council....since I was little, my relationship with numbers was very good. In my head, I could comfortably solve four steps problems. At school and at home, I was really being used like a calculator."
For others, living well meant finding inclusive places and activities that allowed them to connect with their culture, interests and hobbies. This was the case for In-ho, who pursued his love for Samulnori, Korean percussion music, through the Ebenezer Music Centre. In his interview, "Using Music to Deepen Cultural Connections," he shares how joining the percussion ensemble has allowed him to celebrate his culture while also performing in festivals.
"A Janggu (Korean traditional drum) is my favourite instrument in Samulnori (Korean percussion quartet), and I was able to play it at the festival."
Watch the following video to enjoy these interviews and find more stories in up to 25 languages on our website, free to download.
Our program centres the experiences and voices of CALD people living well with a disability, because their stories empower Australian society to be more inclusive of disabilities and cultural diversity. Speak My Language (Disability) is funded by Commonwealth Department of Social Services. The program is being led by the Ethnic Communities Council of New South Wales and is proudly delivered via an historic partnership between all State and Territory Ethnic and Multicultural Communities' Councils across Australia.
*Names changed to keep the anonymity of the storyteller.