International Day of People with Disability was celebrated by SSI together with participants and Linkers from SSI Ability Links NSW in Ashfield on Tuesday November 6. The SSI auditorium was filled with the sounds of Jonathon Yung on piano to start off the morning tea event.
SSI Ability Links NSW participants Jonathan Yung and Shatha Matrood.
Mr Yung was supported by his SSI Linker Li Hua Chu to continue expanding his musical career. Ms Chu secured a spot for him at the Koala Choir, organised by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia through their program Bella Plus Connect, which organises monthly activities for adults with physical, intellectual, and sensory access requirements.
Ms Chu has supported Mr Yung in finding many opportunities to perform in public throughout 2016 and share his passion for music with the community.
International Day of People with Disability is a United Nations sanctioned day that is celebrated around the world.
It’s a day to consider how people with disability are excluded from society, and to promote the removal of all types of barriers; including those relating to the physical environment, information and communications technology, or attitudinal barriers.
SSI takes these barriers seriously and through the work of Ability Links and other services within SSI, it strives to ensure that it engages with the whole of community to remove all types of barriers that people face in accessing community.
"Working together to improve our lives, environment and connections to each other will lead to a more inclusive and equitable world for all," said acting Operations Manager Mick Fallon.
"We all have goals and aspirations and there is capacity to meet these with the support of friends, family, colleagues or community based services."
Shatha Matrood was supported by her SSI Linker Zulfia Erk to build connections in her local community, where she had previously faced discrimination and exclusion.
They worked together to ensure Ms Matrood’s needs were met and to secure opportunities volunteer, work with and support other new migrants.
Ms Matrood shared her story with guests about her journey as a refugee with a disability, which took her from her native Iraq to Syria, and finally to Australia.
"Australia gave us back our dignity and humanity and I was so happy when I first arrived," Ms Matrood said.
Now a Life Coach supported by Ignite Small Business Start-ups, Ms Matrood has slowly gained the confidence to become an advocate for the rights of people with disability, speaking out against situations she has faced due to being vision-impaired.
SSI has started the conversations that lead to change. Some people are really taking on board the cultural and attitudinal changes, but other sectors will take a little more time and understanding before a change can be seen.
SSI will continue to work with the community to ensure that opportunities are made available for people to reach their goals, whether that be through community connections, education and awareness or employment and entrepreneurial pathways.