In the countdown to our Two Feet Showcase, we are profiling some of the teams we’ve been working with over the last six months. Next on the list is Speakers Bank – a platform of professional speakers who experience disability or old age, who aim to inspire people with their shared experiences.

We sat down with Mimi Laurilla, the co-ordinator at Speakers Bank to hear more.

What problem is Speakers Bank tackling?

We live in a world where people are defined not only by the way they look, their ethnicity or cultural background, but also on the basis of whether they have a disability or not.  One in five Australians has a disability, and 88% of those disabilities are invisible. Most of us probably already have people with disabilities in our network of friends, family or workplace and we should know more about them! Misconceptions, stereotypes, and a lack of awareness around disability still exist, and impact the rights of people with disabilities to access services that should be made available to them, including opportunities to participate in meaningful pursuits such as being gainfully employed and living their lives to the fullest.

What is Speakers Bank’s solution?

Our solution to this problem is to break down those barriers through the power of communication. Speakers Bank members are people with disabilities, older people (with or without disability) and carers who have lived experiences that are able to talk about the issues and challenges that they face. Through their stories, they can help raise awareness, provide information, and assist in bridging the gap between what the community knows and how we can further work together to create a more inclusive society.

Ultimately, we want to address different groups to foster acceptance of disability.

Is there a highlight of Two Feet you’d like to share?

What we loved about Two Feet is that the structure of the program is in a sequence that enables us to think through what we have to do without being too overwhelmed. It engages us with new ways of thinking through and analysing what we need to do, and the Two Feet team are so engaging and committed to our success as well. They are upfront and honest about their ideas and this sense of openness is something we needed so that we could challenge ourselves to dig deeper into what we want to achieve and how we want to get there.

Two Feet was very instrumental in giving us the courage to push on as it helped clarify our sense of purpose and who we want to be within the social enterprise sphere.

“What we loved about Two Feet is that the structure of the program is in a sequence that enables us to think through what we have to do without being too overwhelmed.”

What’s the big vision for your enterprise?

I will be bold enough to say that I would love to see Speakers Bank as a leading organisation that continues to promote advocacy for people with disabilities through public speaking and educational programs like training and professional development.

I hope that in 5 – 10 years’ time, we would have been able to fully establish within Victoria, and expanded to other states as well. I would like to see growth not just in the number of speakers that we support and provided with opportunities to speak, but also increased connections with other organisations and businesses who find value in the work that we do.

In doing so, I would hope we’d have contributed to becoming more a more inclusive, open society.

If you’d like to meet the Mimi and her team in person, be sure to sign up to our public showcase.