By Vanessa Papastavros

People with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds and key industry stakeholders 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 Program has produced over 400 podcasts in 22 languages, including on-air conversations about living well with a disability.

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW led the program in a historic partnership between all State and Territory Ethnic and Multicultural Communities’ Councils across Australia.

The Launch featured a live panel with storytellers who participated in the Program, sharing insights about inclusion and accessibility. 

The panellists 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. 

Nidhi, who is blind and lives with cerebral palsy, highlighted during the panel discussion that Speak My Language (Disability) promotes inclusion through the power of storytelling.

“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,” Nidhi said. “You make people culturally aware of your disability and culture. You break stereotypes and you also enhance diversity.”

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.

Due to the success of the Program, the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW is currently in negotiation with the Department for an extension. 

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth recently stated that the possible funding extension “will help all Australians living with disability, regardless of if they are eligible for the NDIS or not.”

Find HERE photos of the event.