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05 Jul 2018


TEDxSydney partnership enables SSI program participants to attend conference in celebration of diversity and inclusion

SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis and SSI Chair Elisabeth Shaw at the TEDxSydney 2018 Conference.

The SSI and TEDxSydney partnership involved a “Pay It Forward” initiative where conference registrants were able to give participants from a wide-range of SSI programs, including disability services, arts and culture, multicultural foster care, refugee resettlement, entrepreneurs, youth services, and employment and training the opportunity to attend the conference for free.

A group of people at a conference.

Captured is SSI program participants with company Cuscal who sponsored 10 tickets at the value of $3,500.

SSI Ability Links participant Abrahim Darouiche attended the conference and said that he was eager to gain ideas and new ways to promote inclusion within his community for people with a disability.

“I am looking forward to accessing new ideas and ways of thinking, innovation, and inspiration for my own business and endeavours,” Mr Darouiche said.

Mr Darouiche grew up in Western Sydney from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background. Due to his conditions, finding ways to participate in his community had its challenges.

“I found adolescence, in particular, a challenge. I was constantly asking myself where I fit in within the community,” he said.

Education pathways were not straight-forward for Mr Darouiche, but he managed to overcome barriers and has a Bachelor of Business and Commerce, along with a Master’s degree. Today, he is an active member of the community and provides peer support through many initiatives and programs.

“I currently work with Disability and Diversity Alliance to run peer support groups to empower people with disabilities to carve their voice in the community.”

Mr Darouiche has launched his own public-speaking business and works with NSW Business Chamber, SSI, and local governments to promote access and inclusion to businesses.

“I give talks and presentations to businesses and community leaders about the unique assets that people with disabilities can offer to organisations and business, and the value of having them as employees.”

Award-winning artist and former refugee from Iraq Bassam Jabar, also attended the conference. Mr Jabar was announced the winner of Art in the Hills prize by former Archibald Prize winner Cherry Hood back in 2015.

Mr Jabar is a budding entrepreneur and participant of the SSI Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative; his artworks have attracted the attention of notable galleries including Kirra Galleries at Melbourne’s Federation Square. He was asked to comment on what “HumanKind” means to him at the conference, watch his interview and hear his heartfelt words on the topic, click here to view.

The SSI New Beginnings Festival curated an interactive dance workshop led by Shyamla for the Mind Body & Soul tribe in the Hub. Shyamla Eswaran is an accomplished performing artist specialising in cultural dance, including Hip Hop, Bollywood, Semi-Classical Indian and Brazilian Samba.

Before launching her own multicultural dance performance initiative, Ms Eswaran worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission and was well-equipped with a Master’s degree in International Human Rights Law.

“I worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission before realising that the best way to effect social change is through the arts,” Ms Eswaran said.

As part of the TEDxSydney after-party, the SSI New Beginnings Festival curated a performance by Sydney Hip Hop artist Kween G. Born in Uganda, Kween G came to Australia after her family was granted asylum and creates music that excites, entertains, and enlightens her listeners — she is often described as “consciousness-raising”.

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