CALD Community Advisor Celebration

More than 40 members of the Hunter’s Culturally and Linguistically Diverse community came together to celebrate their part in a unique engagement and capacity-building project delivered by Ability Links NSW. 

 The Community Advisors, who speak more than a dozen languages between them, shared their experiences of disability inclusion and community participation and developed strategies to support their communities, including linking people to the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

The advisors participated in workshops to develop a broader understanding of disability support in Australia and to create innovative ways to communicate inclusion in their communities. 

Maggie Ferris, a community adviser from the Chinese Community, described the project as a “bridge” between people, on one side of the river, and the NDIS on the other side.

“We (community advisers) are the bridge helping them go across,” she said. “As community advisors, we raise awareness in the community and … hold (people’s) hands, and basically walk them to the door.”

Sakina Karam, community advisor and a member of the Hunter’s African community, said the project had helped members of her community overcome misconceptions some may have had about people with disabilities and where to go for help.

Asalie Hagenimana, another member of the Hunter’s African community, said he gained a lot from his participation. 

 “I learned a lot from it, so now I know what is the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I am very proud of that …”

At first, people in his community did not have an open mind about the supports available to people with disabilities, he said.

“But when you start to talk to them now, they are open – their minds are open.  They know now where to go, who to ask for help, including myself, because I become now a community advisor.”

The NSW Minister for Disabilities and Multiculturalism, John Ajaka,  presented Certificates of participation to the advisors on Wednesday, December 7, at Northern Settlement Services.

 “I would like to congratulate all of those who have contributed to the development of this vital program,” Mr Ajaka said.

“The NSW Government is committed to ensuring that people with disability are able to participate in, and be included in their communities. This innovative program will help us to achieve these goals, by enhancing the participation and inclusion of people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.”

“I look forward to a positive future for our CALD communities with such a competent and well trained NDIS system.”

The CALD Community Engagement Project was initiated and supported by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services - Ageing, Disability & Home Care (ADHC), Ability Links NSW - St Vincent de Paul Society Hunter Central Coast, Northern Settlement Services, Ethic Community Services Cooperative, Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association and the National Disability Insurance Agency.