The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria has prioritised advocating for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse community members who live with a disability, and those who love and care for them. Guided by our vision, values, and mission for an equitable and cohesive society for all, the ECCV extended the Disability Advocacy for CALD communities project to regional Victoria.

    We believe in the power of the voices of people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds who experience disability – and we are proud to welcome Athena Papadatos, ECCV’s CALD Disability Advocate, from Shepparton,” said ECCV Chairperson, Eddie Micallef.

    Born with a physical disability and Coming from a Greek background, Athena is an active advocate for greater access and opportunity for those living with disability. She understands the intersection of cultural diversity and disability – and the struggles of navigating the world through this intersection.

    As a student completing a Diploma of Community Services to further her capacity to support people with disability, Athena had to convince the course coordinator who couldn’t believe she could do the course because she had a disability. He eventually allowed her to pursue 4 individual units and Athena scored distinctions and high distinctions.

    Athena has since acquired a number of qualifications and worked tirelessly, advocating for people with disability, teaching other people with disabilities how to speak up for themselves and gain their independence.

    Speaking up and helping others speak up is a forte of Athena’s that comes as no surprise. Recently, she has spoken to ABC Australia about accessibility issues on V-Line trains for Regional Victorians.

    Disability advocates say regional Victorians are being left behind due to accessibility issues on V-Line trains

    Can you imagine arriving at the train station, planned and ready, only to find you can't physically get on the train? That's the situation for thousands of regional Victorians that struggle with a lack of accessible carriages on V-Line services in Warrnambool and Shepparton.The Disability Resources Centre has commenced a new campaign called Lifetime Lockdown, that focuses on the isolation that barriers to public transport can cause.

    Posted by ABC South West VIC on Wednesday, 24 June 2020

    Through her work at ECCV, Athena will help others from CALD backgrounds living with a disability to advocate for themselves and support them in gaining the access and services they need. The aim is to ensure people from CALD backgrounds living with disability can be heard in the service system – and be heard in the community.

    Athena knows systemic changes for greater accessibility cannot happen without collaborative effort. This is why working with other organisations and community members is a priority in her advocacy work. To get in touch with Athena Papadatos, ECCV’s Disability Advocate for CALD Communities, please email her at apapadatos@eccv.org.au.

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