Author Archives: Naomi H

  1. Survivors telling their stories in the Yarra Ranges

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    By Tyler Wright, Ranges Trader

    Residents throughout the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley are sharing their powerful and unique stories as part of an upcoming ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative.

    The Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) is leading the project in partnership with the Lilydale and Yarra Ranges community to have important stories from family violence and sexual abuse survivors, as well as those who have suffered with their mental health, told.

    “We’ve been doing some work with the Lilydale Revitalization Board, which is a State Government initiative working to invigorate the Lilydale area,” ECLC CEO Michael Smith said.

    “We thought it was a really good chance to highlight some of the different diversity amongst the community in Lilydale and have some people share their experiences and stories [that] might not be typical.

    “People might say, ‘I’ve never met someone who’s got a disability’, or ‘I’ve never met someone who’s had mental health issues or experienced family violence’ and people might come and… have a conversation about what their experience is like,” Mr Smith said.

    Local organisations, such as Anchor, Inspiro, Cire, Box Hill Institute and local council have helped ECLC source the ‘storytellers’ for the events.

    “We had a training session this week at Box Hill Institute where we ran with some trainers, so people can understand how they can share their story in a safe way,” Mr Smith said.

    “These are people who are not still in the middle of a traumatic experience, it’s something in the past for them, and they’ve learnt to work through that.

    It’s really important to be safe for everybody and to be respectful in those conversations.”

    Community members will be able to engage with these storytellers over four different sessions, each covering different topics like women in trades, coming from a culturally diverse background, being a charity founder and working with Indigenous communities, Mr Smith said.

    The events will be held at Lilydale Library, Lilydale Community House and the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum.

    Registration is required to attend and more information is available at

    View the original Ranges Trader news article here.

  2. You Me & MPs – Online Community Toolkit

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    On 4 April 2022, the Parliament of Victoria and ECLC launched the much awaited You Me & MPs Online Toolkit at Parliament House. The event was a celebration of the Engaging Communities in Democracy (ECD) project, a partnership between ECLC and the Parliament of Victoria that began in late 2019.

    The Toolkit was launched by The Hon. Nazih Elasmar, President of the Legislative Council, members of the ECD Advisory Committee and guests.

    The ECD project involved working with CaLD and faith communities to improve understanding and engagement with the Victorian Parliament and its processes.

    The project aimed to support these communities to engage with the parliamentary system of government and law-making, and to give community members the confidence to raise issues with their local Members of Parliament.

    The final outcome of the project involved the development of the You Me & MPs Toolkit which has been translated into 10 different languages and includes:

    • Animated videos on the role of an MP and how to contact an MP
    • Short interviews with community members and parliamentary staff on their experiences
    • Tools on how to engage and interact with local parliamentary representatives

    Co-designed with the ECD Project Advisory Committee, the toolkit is based on the experiences of people in the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne (EMR) together with feedback provided by local MPs and Electorate Officers.

    The Advisory Committee was made up of representatives from the following communities and organisations:

    • Chin Community Victoria
    • Bohri Dawoodi Muslim faith group
    • Bahai Assembly
    • Zorastrian faith group
    • Hindu faith group
    • Indiancare
    • Bounce refugee mentoring program
    • Chinese Health Foundation
    • Zomi community
    • Whitehorse Interfaith Network
    • Maroondah Interfaith Network
    • Manningham Interfaith Network
    • Boroondara Interfaith Network

    President of the Legislative Council, Nazih Elasmar said, “The creation of this toolkit has been a wonderful collaboration that has tapped into the skills and talents of Victoria’s diverse communities.”

    “We are confident that this work will contribute to better understanding of Parliament across many communities and will encourage greater participation in our democracy.”

    Michael Smith, CEO of ECLC said, “We are so pleased to have partnered with Parliament on the Engaging Communities in Democracy project and believe the toolkit will help the communities feel more included and better equipped to understand the parliamentary system – across Victoria and nationally.”

    “ECLC are grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with and learn from diverse leaders across CaLD and faith communities in this important step forward in fostering good community relationships and inclusion, while supporting these communities to advocate for issues they identify locally.” he added.

    The toolkit is available now at