Writers with disability will benefit from a new program announced by Writers Victoria at the Having a Say Conference in Geelong last week.
Write-ability Goes Regional and Online is a three-year program for aspiring writers with disability living in regional Victoria. The project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund.
Bridging the gap between mainstream arts and disability communities, the Write-ability program is one of the only disability-led literary initiatives in Australia. Beginning in 2012 as a partnership with 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.
Highly commended at the 2016 Victorian Disability Awards, Write-ability supports writers who face barriers to participation and the development of their skills, practice and writing careers.
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 interested in writing.
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, Ovens Murray, Western Districts, Goulburn and Mallee regions.
Write-ability Goes Regional and Online will take an innovative delivery approach by supporting people with disability doubly marginalised by living in regional areas.
“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.”
Key to the success of this disability-led initiative is the employment of coordinators, writers and mentors who identify as people with disability to provide role-models and peer support.
This unique model uses writing and literature as a tool for community cultural development. The program has been designed around the importance of self told stories, disability leadership, peer support, and the need for the quietest voices to be heard.
“There need to be more people with disability telling our stories across all types of media,” said Write-ability tutor Carly Findlay. “Telling our own stories educates, reduces stigma, pity, exploitation and sensationalism, and raises the level of expectation that society has about people with disability.”
The program will also have a national impact through an innovative suite of online activities, videos and legacy research, helping to diversify the range of voices that represent Australian life and culture.
For more information about the program or how to get involved, email Fiona.
The Write-ability program is a partnership between Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria. This project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund. Write-ability is also supported by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Grace Marion Wilson Trust.