About 50 people came together through the week of October 10, 2018, to learn about self-advocacy. A self-advocacy feast was held for local people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. This led to the creation of a resource document, Self Advocacy and Diversity – A model for CALD inclusion.
The self-advocates showcased a living example of how empowerment can change lives.
When information about disability in Australia is presented by CALD self advocates, families and communities are better able to understand the rights of people with disability. Involving families and communities in self advocacy education supports people’s broader understanding of contemporary disability culture in Australia. This, coupled with sharing food, stories and the arts encourages communities to come together and create new understandings. It is important that the voices of people with lived experience of the intersection of disability and cultural diversity are central throughout this process.
Though the pathways may diverge, the goals of self advocacy for people with disability from CALD backgrounds are the same as people from non-CALD backgrounds; that is, to support the independent capacity of people to speak up for what they want and need, and be active valued citizens in the community.
As part of the transition to the NDIS the Self Advocacy Resource Unit (SARU) was funded by the Victorian DHHS to co-ordinate a Self Advocacy Partnership Project. The goal of the project was to develop recommendations for self advocacy groups to work in partnership with other organisations. Three diverse Victorian self advocacy groups were chosen to be part of this project; Brain Injury Matters (BIM), Positive Powerful Parents (PPP) and Diversity and Disability (DnD). Each group had its own individual project that included working in partnership with a mainstream organisation.
Self advocacy groups are run by people with disability for people with disability. Self advocacy groups support people with cognitive disability and complex communication support needs to come together and develop their own agency and power. Self advocacy groups also bring people together with shared purpose to work toward all people with disability having equal access, participation and influence in civic and community life.
About Diversity and Disability (DnD)
Diversity and Disability is a self advocacy program delivered at the Migrant Resource Centre North West Region (MRCNW) in St Albans, Victoria. DnD provides support to people with a disability from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background to speak for themselves and achieve their full potential as valued citizens of the community. DnD aspires to enhance the freedom, independence, knowledge and opportunities for people with a disability from a CALD background.
Although a program delivered through the Migrant Resource Centre North West Region (MRCNW), Diversity and Disability is managed by a steering committee made up of people with disability from CALD backgrounds. The majority of staff who work on and deliver DnD programs are people with disability from CALD backgrounds.
The Self Advocacy Resource Unit resources and supports Victorian self advocacy groups run by and for people who have an intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or complex communication needs; complex communication needs include people with disability whose first language is not English.
Diversity and Disability’s project was to develop a model to support the growth of self advocacy in two communities in Victoria, one metropolitan and one regional. Based on research into the demographics of various communities DnD identified Shepparton and Broadmeadows as two areas with a high population of people from CALD communities and chose to focus their work there. DnD worked in partnership with the Ethnic Community Council of Victoria (ECCV) and the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and Districts (ECSD) to develop this model.