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.