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Disability and the CALD community, from exclusion to inclusion, By Unis Goh

I represented the Council in speaking at the 2nd Annual Conference on Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Communities 2012, on 17 April at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel Circular Quay.

I was very honoured to be a speaker at this national conference, where I was able to highlight the challenges and the opportunities in removing barriers to social inclusion in a forum with many CALD practitioners and international scholars. The conference has a high attendance of participants from health care services, multicultural centres, and transcultural & language services.

Despite only few participants from the disability sector, there was a strong interest from the general audience in my talk about person centred approaches, National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I was particularly delighted to have the opportunity in meeting with Assistant Professor, Tawara Goode, Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence, Georgetown University, USA (

Cultural Competence, a professional skill building on the richness of cultural diversity of the nation is one of the means to achieve greater social inclusion. It is a lot more advanced in the USA than it is in Australia. Tawara's thesis provides much encouragement and useful pathways for us to learn from. This is particularly relevant in the context of NSW disability services systems where ADHC (Ageing, Disability and Home Care) has developed a Cultural Diversity Strategic Framework 2010-2013.

At the closing of the conference, I felt that it achieved bringing the diverse group of practitioners and leading policy makers into focus on social inclusion through cultural competence skills training and leadership. Although much has been accomplished in breaking down barriers, a lot more effort is needed in gaining cultural competence at a world standard in Australia in order to achieve a genuine socially inclusive nation.

I wish to thank Melinda Savvides, Executive Officer of the Secretariat for her invitation for me to represent the Council at this conference. I am also grateful to Diana Qian, Senior Policy Officer for her tireless assistance in researching and reviewing my paper. I felt very well supported by Cain Beckett, Chairperson and Council Members’ contributions to my paper have made my presentation an enriching experience. Thank you to everyone again for this meaningful team experience.

By Unis Goh

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019