Star Mail Weekly – Yarra Valley locals are sharing their stories and breaking through societal barriers
Yarra Valley locals are sharing their stories and breaking through societal barriers
By Tyler Wright
Storytellers with varied life experiences and backgrounds have started sharing their stories to help other community members feel seen and heard as part of the ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative throughout Lilydale.
Eastern Community Legal Centre has sourced storytellers from throughout the Yarra Ranges with help from organisations such as Anchor, Inspiro, Cire, Box Hill Institute and local council.
Martina Eaton, member of the LGBTQI+ community and a survivor of domestic violence, was involved in the first two sessions and was grateful to have the chance to share her story; at first interrupted, and then engaging with attendees.
“You don’t often hear about people in same sex relationships experiencing family violence…it doesn’t discriminate,” Martina said.
“It’s been really hearing for me to be able to be able to tell my story…my title is ‘I’m here, I’m queer and I’ve conquered my fear.”
There were five speakers at the first Hidden Voices event Lilydale Community House Martina attended on Tuesday 10 May, who had the chance to engage with community members about their life experiences.
“There are people who are carers, people who are volunteers and people who are living with disabilities, people who’ve experienced sexual assault, family violence and suicide…it’s a really good process for us to process our own stories,” Martina said.
Shek Kho takes the role of carer for her adult son on the Autism spectrum, and although her son was born in Australia, has still struggled navigating the NDIS as a migrant from overseas.
“I went through a very stressful journey. [Having] experienced that, I would like to support other carers and advocate and build awareness to a lot of carers,” Shek said.
“My intention in joining these Hidden Voices sessions is to build awareness to carers in the community and also advocate for people with a disability.”
For Shek, caring for family members comes naturally, but it was at Yarra Ranges Regional Museum on 30 May that she first publicly shared information about her journey as a carer.
“It also gives me the confidence and acknowledge that I’m on the right track.”
The last Hidden Voices session will be held on Thursday 9 June at Lilydale Library starting at 1:00pm.
“A few carers, upon hearing about this project, have registered to come to the last one,” Shek said.
You can read the original story here