The voices of people with disability, their families and carers are at the heart of a new Ability Links NSW (ALNSW) storybook, launched today by Minister for Disability Services and Multiculturalism, The Hon. Ray Williams on behalf of SSI.
Connecting our community: Stories of courage, strength and determination compiles the personal stories of people who have been supported by the ALNSW program, which works with people with disability, their family and carers to live the life they want as valued and equal members of their community.
The stories capture the voice and journey of each storyteller with the aim of motivating and encouraging social change, said Stephen O’Neill, the COO of SSI, which delivers ALNSW in partnership with Uniting and St Vincent de Paul.
“This storybook aims to highlight the valuable contribution people with disability make, and illustrate the reciprocal benefit that inclusion has for individuals and communities,” Mr O’Neill said.
“SSI has been delivering the ALNSW program since 2014, contributing to a significant shift in attitudes towards inclusion of people with disabilities, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.”
Many Ability Linkers with SSI are bilingual and bicultural, making it easier for people of all backgrounds to feel supported to achieve their goals.
“The NSW government is focused on creating inclusive communities for people with disability,” Minister for Disability Services and Multiculturalism, Ray Williams said.
“This is an inspiring book that documents the experiences of people with disability, their carers and family as they overcome challenges and barriers to inclusion. It demonstrates what is possible when we provide everyone with opportunities and are prepared to focus on an individual’s abilities.”
“Congratulations to the ‘Linkers’ and the team at SSI for assisting people to tell their stories of inclusion.”
ALNSW Ambassador Jubran Eesee is one of the participants who shared their story of personal achievement and success in this storybook.
Mr Eesee, who lives with a disability, arrived in Australia in 2015 as refugee. Despite feeling overwhelmed with his new situation at the beginning, he began to work with his SSI Ability Linker to achieve small steps, which lead to a significant improvement that gradually filled his new life in Australia with hope.
“With the support of ALNSW, I gained a solid knowledge of how disability services work here. My Linker helped me apply for the NDIS and I’ve already been granted my package, which has allowed me to receive the benefits and support services that I need,” Mr Eesee said.
“In the recent months I have also worked with my Linker to obtain a driver’s licence, which had always been my dream. Besides this, I have also enrolled into TAFE to improve my English as a first step to pursue further studies and find employment.”
Mr Eesee also said he is currently working with his SSI Linker towards becoming an Australian Citizen — the ultimate goal he established when he started working with ALNSW.
You can read the storybook Connecting our community: Stories of courage, strength and determination on the ALNSW webpage (accessible version available).
To know more about the project, watch the Behind the Scenes video below: