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Community radio brings training and legal understanding together for people with disabilities

CBAA News, 2nd February 2017
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The presenters at Coffs Harbour community radio station CHY FM 104.1 are busy expanding their advocacy efforts for youth with disabilities after receiving a grant from the Law & Justice Foundation.

An independent body, the Law & Justice Foundation provides grants to improve access to justice in NSW, with a specific focus on the socially and economically disadvantaged.

The aim of the My Voice, My Ability, My Rights project launched by CHY FM 104.1 off the back of the grant is to educate young people with disabilities on legal matters ranging from advocacy to disability discrimination and their personal legal rights.

The station will use the money to build training and consultation opportunities, a helping hand which Station Manager Becky Cole said will increase member confidence and help the station to promote its wider ethos for inclusion and opportunity.

“It allows the station to take the time to train a lot of the young people with disabilities in areas such as interview techniques, vocal projection, even just basic skills like basic verbal comprehension,” she said.

“Already, we have seen the verbal skills of our volunteers increase dramatically.”

With the impending rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on the horizon, Cole said that the grant had come at a pivotal time, and would help many of the station’s members with mental and physical disabilities equip themselves with a strong understanding of their place within it.

“We found out that many of the students were unaware about their rights regarding the various types of support they could access,” she said.

“This project puts the young people in charge of asking leaders in the legal, advocacy and disability support field questions that affect them directly as well as their parents and the general public.”

Cole said that being able to run the My Voice, My Ability, My Rights program would help CHY FM 104.1 to further extend its offerings to the wider community and help increase a diversity of content across the airwaves. “

[We] have a lot of young people with disabilities who volunteer at the station; we have students with a range of disabilities including vision impairment, autism, Asperger’s, physical disabilities and mental health issues including social anxiety and depression.”

Cole said that the station and its members would continue to keep in contact with the Law & Justice Foundation, having initially discovered the grant application through Easygrants.

My Voice, My Ability, My Rights is now one of multiple shows at CHY FM 104.1 led by young people with disabilities, with the station also engaging in TAFE Cert II classes which sees members with disabilities work weekly alongside neuro-typical students.

“We aim to be one of Australia’s most inclusive stations so inclusion is a major part of our day to day operations,” Cole said.

“We partner with many disabilityrelated organisations for events and projects - our major focus is to expand on what our volunteers can do.” 

Find out more about building the involvement of people with disabilities in your community radio station by watching the CBAA Conference workshop featuring Kim Stewart (4ZZZ and Ability Radio Project), Bernadette Young (612 ABC Brisbane), Caroline Savransky (Making Airwaves) and Helen Gwilliam (3CR).

This article was originally written for the 2016 November edition of CBX by Hope William-Smith.

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