NSW Network of Women with Disability (Women’s Network)

The NSW Network of Women with Disability, also known as the “Women’s Network” has members from all across NSW. It works to:

• build a community to connect, support, share stories, knowledge and skills
• create a place to celebrate individual and collective differences as women with disability
• develop the skills of women with disability to work towards inclusion and equity

NSW Network of Women with Disability: What they do

A state-wide, quarterly telephone link-up for women with disability who identify as being home-based

Venus Newsletter
A publication written by women with disability, for women with disability

MsTical Women’s Gatherings
Are a way for members and potential members to connect in a comfortable, informal atmosphere

  • Glebe
  • Campbelltown
  • Parramatta
  • Sydney City
  • Macarthur
  • Penrith

Facebook and Women Like Us Yahoo Group is another way to connect with members, no matter where they are in NSW

Members’ Contribution in Awareness Raising Events, Projects, Forums and Networks Formed is how they work towards equity and inclusion. In the past year, members have been involved in:

  • International Women’s Day
  • Reclaim the Night
  • Project on Women with Disability and their Sexual Life –which formed the basis of a report titled: “Your voice is your protection”, a study of sexual experiences of women with disabilities
  • The World Assembly for Women with Disabilities in Seoul
  • Don’t DIS my ABILITY Campaign, International Day of People with Disability NSW Ambassadors
  • Empowerment Month

o Penrith in partnership with Penrith Women’s Group (Nepean Disability Social Group) held a Confidence Building Workshop
o Sydney City in partnership with NSW Council for Intellectual Disability held a Confidence Building Workshop
o Granville held a Confidence Building Workshop

  • Invisible Visible Photography Project
  • Barriers and facilitators to breast and cervical cancer screening for women with physical disabilities: A mixed methods study
  • Person Centred Approaches Consultations
  • Leaders for Tomorrow Program
  • Accessible Arts Audience Reference Group
  • National Women’s Health Conference Stakeholders Forum
  • Women’s Health NSW

The Women’s Network is run by women with disability, for women with disability, with women with disability and relies on the ongoing support of MDAA, as well as some very dedicated volunteers, who like to be known as the WOW (Women Office Wenches) Team. Here is what some of the members have to say:

“The biggest thing I am grateful for is that through the Network I have met some wonderful women and made lifelong friendships with women who understand what I’m going through. I enjoy some of the activities that the Network has arranged, such as self defence and self esteem workshops and social days of coffee and lunch at cafes.” Joanne from Wyee Point

“I am sharing my sincere compliment to the Women’s Network’s varied projects and activities, and with their awesome Venus Newsletter that had and will always have an impact on myself as a woman with disability. The work of the Women’s Network truly redounds to the benefit of women with different types of disability especially those who feel isolated, have unsolved problems which they may not solve in one click of a finger.” Carmelita from Guildford

“I just really value participating in the WOW Team and its activities, including ChickChat, which all comes down to one thing, being actively included, practically, emotionally, socially and politically. We do more than recognise, we actually embrace inclusion. Being home-based, it doesn’t matter what’s happening in life, I am always able to contribute and provide input. I really like the social network aspect, whether it be through working on a campaign or having a coffee together. You are embraced for where you’re at, and who you are. I value the wisdom and experiences we collectively have. People recognise the Network as a place which contributes and is involved. We are a port of call for many projects, government and non government reference/advisory groups and the like.” Kerri from Glebe

“The women of the network and their commitment to continue in the development of projects, enabling to work towards helping with the betterment of conditions, and the resilience of these women never ceases to astound me. The friendships made are lifelong, are unbreakable bonds between women; even if you never meet each other face-to-face, it’s like an umbilical cord that connects us, feeding and nourishing each other. Whatever it is we’re doing, whether it be a coffee morning, a project, a ChickChat program. It’s the same enthusiasm within the planning to the execution; such a burst of energy!” Joanne from St Andrews

“I think that the women’s network is a fun place. I have enjoyed the Empowerment Month workshops, going to all the women’s gatherings, and getting to meet the members. I learn about lots of things in the Women’s Network.” Hannen from Lidcombe

Building Equity through Empowerment

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

BEtE is carried out by the NSW Network of Women with Disability (Women’s Network), which is under the auspices of the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW Inc. (MDAA)

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).

Workshops Quick Reference
Promotional Booklet – PDF 1.2MB

Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW Inc.

The NSW Network of Women with Disability

Creative Siblings

Joint Activity Siblings Project Closing and Community Voices Event July 01 2013 (closed project)


Final workshop Preview Pictures !!


Workshop 09.06.13 – Pictures

Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW Inc.

Would Like to Invite to


A day to acknowledge Siblings who have a brother or sister with disability

10-12 Hutchinson St, Granville NSW 2142
Date: 1 July 2013 Time: 11am – 1pm

  • Acknowledgment of Country Flloza Beker
  • Welcome Anela Sibila – MDAA Actg. CEO
  • The Sibling Project Overview Susan Laguna – Advocacy Team Leader and George Ayoub – MDAA Siblings Consultant
  • Feedback Gladyss Panoncillo
  • DVD Siblings Project Presentation
  • Feedback Catherine Vanisi
  • Distribution of Gifts to Siblings Participants Anita Sharma, SSDO ADHC
  • Distribution of Certificates to CV Parramatta Councill Representative
  • Closing Remarks Hon. Tony Issa, MP for Granville

Siblings Project is Funded by NSW Ageing, Disability and Home Care, Department of Family and Community Services
CV Training partially funded by Parramatta Council
Light Refreshments Provided

Please R.S.V.P. by Friday 28 June 2013, call MDAA on 9891 6400 or call George Ayoub 0428 473 771

PDF Logo Flyer – PDF

The Project

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 Inc. (MDAA) and is funded through the agency Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), Department of Family And Community Services (FACS).

This year, the project focused on young people living in broad range of regions across Sydney and also provided the opportunity for previous participants to continue to develop their skills. We believe that disabilities, illness, and mental health issues affect the lives of all family members. Consequently, we want to increase the peer support and information opportunities for brothers and sisters of people with special needs and to increase parents and providers understanding of sibling issues.

The aim of the project is to develop and maintain sustainable networks of siblings of young people with a disability from NES/CALD background. The CALD Sibling Support Network Project will build resilience, develop leadership capacity, increase awareness and providing opportunities to develop the tools and resources to share and obtain further health and other information for young people participating in the program.

At the beginning of 2012 young people who participated in the training in previous years and this year held an exhibition of their work. It was attended by young people, their families and friends as well as representatives from MDAA, ADHC. Participants were presented with certificates of achievement and the completed DVD of the collection of their work.

For further information and current activities details, please contact George Ayoub on 0428 473 771

Generic Project Flyer JPEG 400kb
Generic Project Flyer PDF 800kb

Cumberland/Prospect NESB Service Access Project

What is the Cumberland Prospect Region NESB Access Project (RAP)

The Cumberland Prospect Region NESB Access Project (RAP) is an Industry Development Project of the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW (MDAA). It is funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care (DADHC) with the aim of building Cumberland Prospect disability service providers capacity to respond to the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of people in their region. The project focuses on identifying where each local disability service provider is up to regarding their ability to engage and work with the diversity in their local community.

What does the RAP do?

The RAP provides support to local disability service providers to identify best ways of working with the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity of their community. It can support agencies to identify their strengths and what they are doing well, and also addressing any areas of weakness. The RAP assists local services to meet real community needs. The emphasis is on tailoring support to services in whatever ways are needed. This may include:

  • Identifying an organisation’s current ability to provide culturally competent services and programs
  • developing and implementing strategies to build an organisation’s capacity to work with the cultural, linguistic and religious diversity of its community
  • developing and implementing strategies to build a culturally competent workforce, and
  • reflecting on how our own cultural values and beliefs impact on our interactions with the people we provide services to and work with

One of the keys to the RAP’s success is the use of an access and equity/cultural competency audit. This enables participating services to work systematically through their current policies and practices as well as identifying important opportunities for working more constructively with community and cultural diversity.

Which services are eligible to receive support from the RAP?

If you are a disability service provider and funded by DADHC to provide services in the Cumberland Prospect region, and want to improve your service delivery to better meet the needs of your community, then you are eligible to receive support through the RAP.

Are there any costs involved?

The services, support and training provided through the RAP are free to Disability Service Providers in the Cumberland Prospect.

More Information?

Maria Katrivesis
RAP Consultant
Mob: 0421 0465 66
E-mail: mariakat@tpg.com.au

Statewide Project

Funded by the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care we aim to assist disability services across NSW to become more culturally competent by developing and disseminating resources and information. ‘Cultural competence’ means that individuals, agencies and systems have the skills and knowledge to respond to the needs of everyone in our culturally diverse community, regardless of the person’s cultural background.

We have developed a host of resources, most of which are available through this website, for disability and other human services to use.

We will continue to develop resources. We are also interested in what resources and information you need to provide services which are more culturally competent. Please email us your ideas and suggestions at mdaa@mdaa.org.au.

Small Stone

“Make each Small Stone count”

We can all create ripples in the water
Under the auspices of MDAA NSW Inc, ‘Small Stone’ is a project built on the philosophy that everyone should be equally valued and to feel included in the community to increase participation, as everyone has something to contribute because each small stone counts.

Small Stone Project is capacity building workshops that looks at barriers and opportunities for young people with disability. The project is for young people run by young people. Lead by the Small Stone Project Advisory Committee (SSPAC) which consist of 5 young people from CALD/NESB, and 2 community services providers.

The aim of the project is to promote inclusion and participation of young people aged 16 – 25 from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) / non-English speaking background (NESB) with disability.

Small Stone aims to:

  • Identify barriers and come up with strategies and recommendations for increased inclusion and participation of young people in the community
  • Develop practical training and workshops focusing on personal/professional development, to empower young people to;
  •    actively participate in the broader community and;
  •    participate in post school options and employment

The project has 4 main components:

  1. Social inclusion and active community participation component
  2. Peer Mentoring – learning from each other’s experiences and expertise
  3. Personal/Professional Development – practical workshops that boost confidence
  4. Taking Action – setting personal goals that work towards achieving individual aspirations.

For more information contact William Bagatcholon – Project Officer on 02 9891 6400.

“All young people from  CALD/NESB with disability, count and have equal right to be included and actively participate in the community”

NDIS Pre-Planning

Do you want to:

  • Get ready for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?
  • Get the most out of your funding?
  • Make your own decisions about what you want for your life?
  • Learn new skills and get more involved in community activities?
  • think about what sort of life you want now and in the future?

Pre-Planning can help you

The NSW government is supporting people with disability to prepare for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  Family and Community Services (FACS) has been funding a project which aims to provide people with disability greater choice and access to support planning services, which can assist people to attain the life they want through their own individual planning.

In July 2014 FACS funded five non-government organisations (NGOs), including MDAA, to provide Pre-Planning to people with disability. This gives them a choice to work with an NGO if they prefer and which NGO they would like to work with. The participants discuss and make a plan for their future, including the types of activities and supports they may need to have the life they want. NDIS Pre-Planning is a voluntary process.  The individual can contact FACS directly, who will decide whether they are eligible and refer them to their preferred NGO who will then contact the participant.

Pre-Planning focuses on each person as a unique individual and assists the person to think about what kind of life they want. During the planning, the planner assists the person to decide on particular goals as steps along the way to attaining the life they want, and then plan what needs to happen for the person to achieve those goals.

The participant is encouraged to invite the people who are important in their life to be involved in the planning meetings, and to provide ongoing support to the person to achieve the goals they set for themselves.  By doing this, support planning aims to assist the person to expand their experiences, develop friendships, and increase opportunities to engage in activities the person would really like to do in the community.

For more information:    NDIS Pre-Planning flier

People at Community Voices


My name is Tony, I speak Arabic and I was born in Lebanon. My family came to Australia when I was a baby. I went to St George School and left in 1985. Then I got a job at a workshop, mostly doing physical activities but the place closed down. I live with my family, have a girlfriend and friends and I like to go out and do window shopping too. I wanted to broaden my horizon and learn more about disability, go out and talk about that without shame.


I am from Indian background, I live with my parents and I have cerebral palsy and a vision impairment. My hobbies include quizzes and traveling. I speak five languages including English. Some of the problems I face are that I find it difficult to become familiar with new places.

I have lived in New Zealand where I did public speaking in schools about disability. I have one brother and one sister, older than me. I have travelled to the USA, Europe, New Zealand and around Australia.

I was born in Afghanistan and I was a teacher in High School in Physics and Mathematics. When the war started in my country I joined my parents in India, bringing along my own family.

My family and I came to Australia as refugees in 1994. We went to see the doctor for a check-up and he told me that my daughter had a heart condition and an intellectual disability. Now she is in year eleven. In 1995 my son had some speech issues, and after a lumbar puncture he got much worse.

A friend told me about MDAA and they helped dealing with Centrelink and also to get into TAFE. Thanks to MDAA and thanks to my husband who helps me in everything.

Shu was born in Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as English. She finished school in 1990. Since then she has completed a range of courses including Office Skills, English, Living Skills and a Diploma in Ceramics and a Retail course.

Shu enjoys gardening, cooking and knitting. In her spare time she likes traveling and lately she has been to New Zealand and the Snowy Mountains. She lives on her own and works for MDAA as an Administrative Assistant and also is a member of the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability.

Robina has a family of five girls and boys, two of whom have disability. She was born in Kashmir, where she worked in the primary healthcare area and learned to speak some of the local dialects.

Robina graduated as a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Masters in Anthropology in Pakistan. Painting, teaching and reading about nature and religious matters are important to her.

Dulia came from South America to Australia more than 20 years ago. Dulia cares for her daughter who has a learning impairment as a result of medical negligence when she was just over 2 years old. Her daughter now not only looks after herself but also looks after children in a child care centre where she works part-time.

Dulia believes that her life experiences have been both difficult and gratifying. She thinks that sharing these experiences with others could help them to avoid some of the problems her family had to face. Dulia is also a member of MDAA Inc. Committee.

Milanka came from Serbia in 1969 and since the late seventies she has had a vision impairment. Milanka has been involved with MDAA Inc. for a long time and she was one of the first Community Voices.

Milanka likes to tell communities about her own experiences of disability and ethnicity, because she feels that people need more knowledge and understanding about disability so everyone can be more supportive. In the little spare time Milanka has, she enjoys learning new skills to enrich her life. Milanka gets involved in many things, the latest being a Communication Certificate at TAFE. Milanka is a Life Member of MDAA and is very active in different disability organisations.

Carmelita was born in Manila, Philippines and had polio when she was one year old. Her mother who was a teacher encouraged her not to have self pity and inferiority complex.

She learned how to walk with crutches the hard way but this did not stop her from pursuing her education graduating as a government scholar with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Carmelita came to Australia in May 1986 and worked at the Water Board (now Sydney Water) for 11 years as customer service officer. She started volunteer work at MDAA way back 1999. She also worked on call with SBS Radio Filipino for a while, as talkback producer and translating articles from English to Tagalog, our native dialect.She feels she is lucky because she can make use of her faculties despite having a disability.She enjoys traveling alone interstate and overseas if financially and physically she can do it. She likes singing and dancing with her electric wheelchair even at home.

Rachel came from Bulgaria to Australia with her son in 1980. Overseas she graduated and worked as a Nurse, but after losing sight in one eye she swapped careers and finished an Electrocardiogram Technician course and obtained a Diploma in Early Intervention in Child Development. In Australia she got a Diploma in Social Welfare and at the same time she started working for MDAA as an Advocate until her vision deteriorated even further and she went to do voluntary community work.

In 2002 Rachel had a serious train accident and suddenly she became a double amputee, her independence took a tumble again, but not for long, as she soon learned to walk on her own. Currently she is a Board member Eastside Advocacy. She keeps her roots volunteering in community services to people who are ageing or being guest speaker on disability, advocacy and ethnicity issues. “I like to promote awareness regarding disability and break down barriers” she says. Tenacity and strong will are some of this woman’s attributes.

Community Voices

Who are the Community Voices

Community Voices are people from a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)/non-English speaking (NES) background with disability and their families and friends who are trained in public speaking and who are willing to share their stories. The Project uses the skills and expertise of these Community Voices to educate and raise awareness about the diversity of the community.

The experiences of the Community Voices will provide a starting point for discussion. This discussion will assist your organisation’s understanding of some of the broader issues faced by people of minority communities, including:

  • Access and equity issues
  • Attitudinal barriers
  • The benefits of diversity

Through this experience Community Voices encourage members and staff of your organisation to think about things they can do to support diversity and improve community harmony.

pdf-icon CV Flyer – Updated

Industry Development

We aim to assist disability services across NSW to become more culturally competent and also to assist ethnic community services to understand and respond better to people with disability.

The challenges facing human service agencies are:

  • NSW is becoming an increasingly diverse community with people from over 150 different countries and 25% of all people in NSW speaking a language other than English at home.
  • Almost 20% of all people in Australia identify as having a disability.
  • One in four people with disability (over 300,000 people) in NSW are from a non-English speaking background (CALD/NESB). Currently, only one in twenty people with disability who use disability services are from a CALD/NESB.
  • Funding bodies and monitoring frameworks increasingly require a focus on fair and just outcomes for all people in the community, including people from a CALD/NESB with disability.

MDAA Inc. aims to enhance the competence of workers, agencies and communities in cultural diversity and disability.

We do this through

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