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Own Voices Forum - Port Phillip






This free event at the St Kilda Library is a forum for writers with disability from the City of Port Phillip and surrounds interested in joining the Writeability Goes Local Writers Group that will run at St Kilda Library between April and November 2024.
Portraits of Jess Walton and Nicole Smith


It will also benefit anyone working with, caring for or supporting people with disability. Part one of the forum, Why Writing Matters, provides professional development on the Social Model of Disability and best practice language for support workers, carers, and organisations. After lunch, part two of the forum, Own Voices, explores how language, writing and telling our own stories helps transform ways of thinking about ourselves, disability and our community. It also introduces local mentor Jenny Hedley, who will facilitate the Writers Group, scheduled to run for eight sessions over the coming months. Writers with disability at all levels of experience are invited to attend.

This project has been supported by the City of Port Phillip through the Cultural Development Fund, and Writers Victoria.

You can find details of how Covid-19 restrictions will affect the workshop here: https://writersvictoria.org.au/about-us/covid-19-information/. You are encouraged to wear a mask in the workshop space. If you are a close contact of somebody with Covid-19, or have Covid-19 symptoms yourself, please do not attend; please contact [email protected] if you are unable to attend.

By bridging the gap between mainstream arts and disability communities, the Own Voices Forum will use writing to break down barriers to social inclusion and give people with disability the skills and opportunity to tell their stories their way. 

You Will Learn:

In our morning session, Why Writing Matters, you will:

  • Develop your understanding of disability
  • Examine the Social Model of Disability
  • Explore disability representation in literature
  • Explore how  telling our own stories helps transform ways of thinking about ourselves, disability and our community
  • Look at ways to write about disability from your own, lived experience.
  • Take part in writing activities, including “A Letter to Myself”

For support workers, carers and organisations, this forum provides:

  • Disability awareness training,
  • A deeper understanding of the importance of creativity and own voice stories for people with disability

In  our afternoon session, Own Voices, you will:

  • Meet local mentor Jenny Hedley
  • Learn more about the Port Phillip Writers Group for people with disability
  • Take part in a range of writing activities

About the presenters:

Jessica Walton is a queer, disabled writer and speaker. They co-wrote an episode of Get Krack!n focused on disability, which aired on ABC in 2019. They are the author of graphic novel Stars In Their Eyes, with artwork by Aśka (Fremantle Press 2021) and Introducing Teddy, illustrated by Dougal MacPherson (Bloomsbury 2016). Jess also has two short stories for teens and kids published in Australian anthologies Funny Bones (Allen and Unwin 2019) and Meet Me at the Intersection (Fremantle Press 2018), as well as poetry in a few anthologies, magazines and journals.

Nicole Smith is a writer, wheelchair user, coffee addict, AFL footy fan and improviser. She has a blog where she interviews social entrepreneurs: www.blankpagesandemptyspaces.com. She has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and a Graduate Diploma of English from La Trobe University. Nicole won a Writeability Fellowship from Writers Victoria. Nicole was Local Mentor for Writers Victoria’s Storming the City Creative Writing Program at The Wheeler Centre in 2022. 

About the local mentor:

Jenny Hedley is a neurodivergent writer, PhD candidate and Writeability mentor whose work appears in Archer, Cordite, Crawlspace, Diagram, Mascara, Overland, Rabbit, TEXT, The Suburban Review, Verity La, Westerly, and the anthologies Admissions: Voices in Mental Health and Verge. She lives on unceded Boon Wurrung land with her son. Website: jennyhedley.github.io/

Cancellation Policy


150 Carlisle St
St Kilda
3182 Australia


Phone: (03) 9917 8462
Email: [email protected]

Registration for this event ended on 13 March 2024 - 12:00
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