Advocacy Development

MDAA Inc. works together with carers of people from a Culturally And Linguistically Diverse / Non- English Speaking background with disability to enhance their capacity to speak up for themselves.

We work towards positive change in attitudes and increased awareness within communities, with a focus on disability and ethnic communities. We do this through community information days, training and information sessions for people with disability.

Many of these activities are undertaken in collaboration with other agencies. If you are interested in working with us on an advocacy development project, please email us.


Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE): Achieving Equity for Women with Disability through the feeling of Empowerment!

Research and evidence demonstrates that women with disability are one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia, in many aspects, such as income and equal access to employment, education, housing and health care. With so many societal barriers that women with disability face, just to protect basic human rights, having opportunities to live the life that everyone should have the chance to live, can be greatly compromised.

Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE) aims to empower women with disability to gain confidence and self-esteem, through skills develop-ment, with a series of workshops throughout the year. In essence, BEtE allows women with disability to come together, develop new skills, learn from each other, share their experiences, while meeting new people in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.

Funded by Community Builders, through the Department of Family and Community Services, BEtE is aimed for women with disability who live and/or in the Sydney Metro West Region (i.e. Auburn, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Metro West Regional, Parramatta, Penrith and The Hills).

Creative Siblings 2013

The CALD Sibling Support Network is a pilot project providing networking opportunities for young people between 10 to 18 years of age from CALD backgrounds who have a brother or sister with disability. The project will comprise of three stages including • Creative ideas camps, • Intensive digital media workshops: production, promotion and distribution • Web-based communication/Leadership workshops. The CALD Sibling Support Network is a project of Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA) and is funded through the agency Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), Department of Family And Community Services (FACS).



Creative Siblings 2012

The CALD Sibling Support Network is a pilot project providing networking opportunities for young people between 10 to 18 years of age from CALD backgrounds who have a brother or sister with disability. The project will comprise of three stages including • Creative ideas camps, • Intensive digital media workshops: production, promotion and distribution • Web-based communication/Leadership workshops. The CALD Sibling Support Network is a project of Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association (MDAA) and is funded through the agency Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), Department of Family And Community Services (FACS).

For more information on wthat’s happening now!!
go to Creative Siblings Project information. New camps, retreats and workshops

Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE) 2012

Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE) 2012 Working towards achieving equity for women with disability through empowerment! What is Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE)? Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE)is for women with disability in the Sydney Metro West Region (i.e. Auburn, Blacktown, Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Metro West Regional, Parramatta, Penrith and The Hills) who would like to develop and learn new skills, learn from each other, share their experiences while meeting new people in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.

BEtE involves free workshops to build skills that women with disability can apply within their own life settings; whether it be building the confidence to meet new people, or getting ready to be involved, speaking out and becoming a voice in your local community (and/or beyond!), or anything in between.

Building Equity through Empowerment (BEtE) 2012 including Workshops Flyers and Workshops Information

Information Forum “Services for People with Disability: ADHC, Home Care Services and Mission Australia – March 28, 2012

The Information Forum “Services for People with Disability” was held on 28 March 2012 at MDAA Inc. premises. The aim was to provide information to MDAA consumers and members about relevant services for people with disability and their carers and families. Invited were guest speakers who presented their services as follows:

  1. Ms Evonne Dang (ADHC Senior Case Manager) and Ms Gordana Kalanj (Level 2 ADHC Case Manager) spoke about eligibility criteria and services provided by ADHC.
  2. Mr Magdi Hanna (Manager Home Care Services Parramatta Office) spoke about home care services for people with disability and frail aged people.
  3. Ms Grace Perez (Mission Australia – Employment Service for People With Disability) spoke about employment services provided for people with disability.

The Forum was very well attended, 25 MDAA consumers and members participated and used the opportunity to learn about services provided for people with disability, their carers and families and to share their experience and understanding of the issues discussed.

Forum Participants

2012 CALD Sibling Support Network New Workshops at Bankstown!!

The CALD Sibling Support Network has been funded by the NSW Government Department of Human Services; Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) and is a project of Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association Inc. (MDAA).

The CALD Sibling Support Network Project will undertake an arts project in conjunction with Information and Cultural Exchange (ICE), building digital media skills to provide young people with the opportunity to express their experiences of having a sibling with a disability in a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds family and environment, and providing opportunities to develop the tools and resources to share and obtain further health and other information in the form of an online blog.

The aim of the project is to develop and enhance support networks of siblings aged between 12 – 17 with brothers or sisters with disability from CALD backgrounds. In addition, the project aims to build ongoing sustainable networks of CALD siblings of young people with a disability. The CALD Sibling Support Project will build resilience, develop leadership capacity, increase awareness and foster respect for diversity amongst the young people participating.

The CALD Siblings Project is to be carried out in 5 stages.

For more information or to get involved call Feriha on 9891 6400 or email

For the new 2012 dates check the flyer below!!

 CALD Sibling Linx.pdf


Launch of “Violence Through Our Eyes”

MDAA launched the ‘Violence Through Our Eyes: Improving Access to Services for Women from non-English Speaking Background with Disability Experiencing Violence Project Report’. The report details the experiences and barriers faced by women from NESB with disability when accessing services after experiencing violence. The report also details suggested strategies to enhance service provision. Over 60 people attended the launch on Wednesday March 10 2010 which was held at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta . The event also coincided with International Women’s Day 2010 celebrations. The project was a partnership with Cumberland Women’s Health, Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association and NSW Strategy to Reduce Violence Against Women Unit. This project was made possible through funding provided by the then NSW Premiers Department (Office for Women) and Clubs NSW.

The report is available in hard copy, Braille, audio and electronic. Please contact MDAA on (02) 9891 6400 or if you would like a copy of the report.

 Violence Through Our Eyes.Doc


1. Healthy Life Style Forum on 11 March: We had a very interesting discussion with our 24 consumers and members about nutrition, health and gentle exercise. The session was run by Ms Joyce Broughton, Nutritionist and Ms Camelia Bedwany, Bilingual Community Worker from SWAHS Multicultural Health. We would like to share with you some of consumer/member comments about the forum: “The forum was informative, friendly”; “message send across to keep us healthy”, “the food was delicious, practiced some of gentle exercises during the forum”.

2. Tenancy Rights Forum on 20 May: Talked about rights and responsibilities of tenants renting either private or public housing. One consumer said: ” I learnt that there is a service for people with housing complaints. Now, I clearly understand the difference between public housing, social housing and private rental accommodation”.

3. MDAA & NSW Ombudsman Forum on 24 June: Dealt with making complaints at MDAA and about other community services. The idea is to make people aware that it is OK to complain or give feedback to any service as this helps them to become better. Susan Laguna from MDAA explained MDAA’s Complaint Policy and some consumers did a role play on how to make a complaint. The staff at the NSW Ombudsman gave people tips on how to communicate effectively with services.

4. Relationship Forum 26 August: This was a nice discussion about how to make friends, form healthy relationship and talk to family members, partners and people you meet. MDAA members and consumers got to know how to make connections with tips about communication skills and body language such as a smile on your face. They also expressed their feelings and their mood on the day and learnt how to spot what a healthy relationship looks like.

Consumers Feedback:
“I liked the part about how communication helps to build stronger relationships (solving problems, avoiding communications breakdowns) and the importance of listening”,

“I would like another forum to talk more about relationships”.

5. Morning Tea 30 September 2009: About twenty consumers got together to know about how to join MDAA and the benefits of joining, how to become a member of MDAA Committee and the roles of the Committee.

Consumer feedback:
“it was very well organized and very detailed. I also liked the four mini presentations to show how all the work is involved when joining the committee”.

 6. “Chill Out for Carers” 23 October: To celebrate Carers Week twenty carers from a number of cultural backgrounds took part in a “Laughter Workshop”. Shyda Marek, a trained Laughter Therapist showed the Carers laughter exercises which relaxed the muscles and gave carers a much needed break. Participants were quoted as saying ‘ The meeting today is excellent. I enjoyed the laughing exercise’. ‘Laughing exercise really helps a lot’.

7. A presentation was made by NDS – Companion Card: A Companion Card is for people with a severe and profound permanent disability who always require an attendant carer to support their participation in community activities and venues. The card holder is entitled to a second ticket for their companion at no charge when presented at affiliate organisations. Carers were assessed to see if the people they care for would be eligible.

MDAA gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance provided by Carers NSW and NSW DADHC for this event.


1. Consultation with the Nepalese Community on 29 March: MDAA held a consultation with Nepalese community workers and other organisations who work with this community. It was MDAA’s first attempt to build networks within this community and the main aim was to raise awareness about disability and the services available in NSW to people with disability within the Nepalese community.

2. “What is Advocacy?” Workshop on 21 February: Twelve participants attended the training workshop on “What is Advocacy?” held at MDAA.

Participants said that the case studies used were very helpful as a training resource and they have gained a better understanding of the differences between advocacy and case management.

3. Housing Forum, 16 April: MDAA held a Consumer Forum about the new policies of the Department of Housing (DOH). The topics covered: priority housing eligibility criteria; recent changes to DOH; modifications, and other support products that DOH offer to people with disability.

There were 32 consumers and members who attended the presentation and they had an opportunity to discuss their concerns with Mr Rick Farrow, Client Service Officer of DOH Parramatta. Some issues were also raised by MDAA advocates and feedback is expected from DOH. We appreciate Mr Farrow’s contribution and knowledge in answering the questions. The Forum was followed by an assortment of food, some of which were contributed by our Afghani and Filipino consumers. We would like to thank everyone who helped during the forum.

4. Mental Health Issues Consultation, 6 May: MDAA organised a consultation regarding mental health issues on behalf of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre in relation to a project on providing legal support to people with mental health issues.

5. Becoming an Australian Citizen Forum, 21 May: MDAA consumers and members attended an information session on changes to becoming a citizenship. It was delivered by the Assistant Manager for Citizenship from Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

6. Health & Leisure Forum, 26 June: Health and travelling tips were given to MDAA consumers and members by Seeta Durvasula, of the Centre for Developmental Disability Studies, and Simon Darcy who talked about the best accessible leisure spots as well as getting information on where to go when you organise your holidays or outings. Here is a web link for more information on accessible travel:

7. Open Day for Consumers, 23 July: A morning tea was organised at MDAA for consumers who are not members and existing members who might be interested to join the MDAA Committee. They were informed of the benefits of joining MDAA; how to become a member of MDAA Committee; the role of the Committee; and what MDAA does to support people from NESB with disability, their families and carers.

8. Lobbying Forum, 5 August: MDAA held a Lobbying Forum at Granville Youth & Community Centre. It was attended by 25 people. There were two workshops. One ran by Shobhna Pandaram from the Office of Fair Trading about consumer rights when purchasing goods and services. The other ran by Carolyn Campbell from the NSW Ombudsman regarding communicating with disability services. Both speakers were surprised and delighted by the number of questions and personal stories from the audience who were so keen to share. Useful tips were given to consumers about how to write complaint letters, and who to, when there are issues in accessing services or buying goods. The participants gave their feedback to make sure future MDAA forums are as good if not better than this one.

9. Election Forum, 28 August: The Forum was well attended by consumers and MDAA Committee. Some of the Committee members delivered a presentation on “How to vote” which involved a role play on getting assistance when voting. The Parramatta Local Councillor, Anita Brown talked about local council services. The audience was very pleased with the role play and all the presenters.

10. A consultation was jointly organised by MDAA and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) on 11 September regarding the Disability Support Pension and Tax Review which the Australian Government is doing. In order to represent the views of our consumers, MDAA and NEDA invited consumers to a morning tea to talk about their views on pensions, so that we can let the Australian Government know what people from NESB with disability think.

11. Visit to State Parliament, 15 November


1. Election Seminar, 19 February: We held an election seminar to help people better understand the structure of the NSW Government, Voting options, Election process and How to fill out ballot papers.

Knowing about my Culture Forum and training ‘Communicating with People from Different Cultures’,

2. 2 March: MDAA clients and members sharing their cultures. Trainer was Maria Katravesis.

3. Services for People with Disability Forum, 27 April: Department of Ageing Disability and Homecare talking about their services for people with disability.

4. Exploring Arts Forum, 18 May: Exploring Arts: We had an arts activity which involved glass painting turning an ordinary cup or glass into a colourful and expressive piece of craft.

5. ‘Knowing your Rights’ Forum, 26 June: A forum which is important for our consumers who usually miss out on important information about important things they need to know. We covered general questions about disability and discrimination such as: What is disability and discrimination? Indirect and direct discrimination What is my right? Who can help me? The presentation was run by Amy McGowan a project worker from NSW Council for Intellectual Disability. A follow-up session will be organised in the future.

6. “Planning for Your Future Conference” at Parramatta Town Hall, on Tuesday 24 July: Katrina Clarke, President of the NSW Association for Children with a Disability, was the guest speaker and she talked about Disability Trusts. Four workshops were also held:
– Looking After your Money Matters: Therry Sorrell from Centrelink
– Health Needs – Caring for Carers: Grace Chan, Multicultural Carers Development Coordinator of Carers NSW
– Aids/Equipment and Modifications: Jaie Thompson Ocupational Therapist from Northcott Society Outreach Team
– Health Issues for People with Disability: Dr Marina Baita, General Practitioner of the Centre for Developmental Disability Studies

7. Members and Consumers Consultation: On 27 September MDAA held a consultation with members and consumers to know what they wanted MDAA to do in the next three years.

8. Ombudsman Consumer Forum: How to Make a Complaint: On 12 October MDAA held a Consumer Forum at Harris Park called “The right stuff – Tips for making complains”. Betsy Coombes, a Team leader at the Ombudsman Office, talked about how to complain. The forum was officially opened by MDAA Community Voices Nidhi Shekaran. She welcomed Betsy and 24 consumers and members of MDAA.

For two hours Betsy discussed rights, building a positive relationship with services, complaint processes and resolving problems with other services. The meeting was very informative and all participants were actively involved in asking questions. During discussion time the participants had a chance to tell their personal experiences, share stories and find out what to do in future.

Consumer Opinion:
“The role of the Ombudsman’s Office was explained very well and also the presenter involved the whole group in the discussion. It was beneficial for clients to see and feel that they were not the only ones who are in this situation. The speaker was very open and made me feel very welcome. It was a good reminder of disability rights. It would be good to have language brochures.

9. Arabic, Chinese & Vietnamese Communities Community Participation, 13 November, MDAA and the Chinese Australian Services Society (CASS) organised an Information Day for the Chinese community in Campsie about programs and services available for children and young people with disability.

It was a great opportunity for young people with disability aged 5 to 25 and their families to learn how to maintain and develop life skills and increase independence through leisure, recreational, social and cultural activities.

Twelve parents of children and young people with disability heard from guest speakers from the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care and the Department of Education and Training about the Community Participation Program and other services available for children and young people with disability and their families. CASS and MDAA representatives also explained their services and discussed relevant Centrelink entitlements. MDAA was represented by Vanco who is one of our Individual Advocates and Luis and Nidhi from our Community Voices Project.

There were two other similar Information Days arranged by MDAA in partnership with other organisations; one on 1st November for the Vietnamese community and another one on 14 November for the Arabic community.

10. Election Forum on 16 November: Representatives of political parties came to present their platforms for people with disability.