Regional initiative engages writers with disability
A three year program for aspiring writers with disability living in regional areas has received federal funding support.
The Write-ability program, which bridges the gap between mainstream arts and disability communities, is one of the only disability-led literary initiatives in Australia. Established in 2012 as a partnership between Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria, the program aims to engage with and support writers with disability, who are hugely under-represented in the writing and publishing sector.
Having recently received support from the Federal Government through the Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund, Write-ability is now set to expand into regional Victoria, with a new, three-year program called Write-ability Goes Regional and Online.
‘It is clear that disabled writers in regional areas are further disadvantaged and often invisible, but this program is a reminder that we exist and we are worthy,’ said Write-ability participant Michelle Roger. ‘That is a powerful message for not just myself as a disabled writer but for all disabled people.’
Starting in Ballarat in April 2017, Write-ability Goes Regional and Online will target eight regions over the next three years, delivering workshops, author talks and webinars for people with disability who are interested in writing, and professional development for arts and disability organisations.
Following the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the program will then move onto the Loddon region, Inner and Outer Gippsland, the Ovens Murray, Western Districts, Goulburn and Mallee regions.
Key to the success of the initiative is the employment of coordinators, writers and mentors who identify as people with disability to provide role-models and peer support.
Carly Findlay, a Write-ability tutor, said there need to be more people with disability telling their own stories across all types of media.
‘Telling our own stories educates, reduces stigma, pity, exploitation and sensationalism, and raises the level of expectation that society has about people with disability,’ she said.
The program will also have a national impact through an array of online activities, videos and legacy research, helping to diversify the range of voices that represent Australian life and culture.
Visit the Writers Victoria website for more information about participation in the Write-ability Goes Regional and Online program.