History of Speakers Bank


The Beginnings

 The Speakers Bank was established as a partnership project between the Western Region Disability Network (WRDN) and the MetroAccess Program of Maribyrnong Council, in conjunction with Carers Victoria and Toastmasters. It commenced in June 2006 by seeking Expressions of Interest from people with disabilities and carers of people with a disability who were interested in attending a course in public speaking.

Expressions of interest were promoted through the WRDN newsletter and e-update as well as through MetroAccess and other community networks. The criteria included the need for the applicant to be a member of the WRDN.

A total of 24 applications were received for the 12 positions available on the course. Thirteen people commenced the course, of whom eleven successfully completed the entire course.

Some of the applicants were considered to have previous experience in public speaking. These people were approached to ascertain their interest in mentoring others in the future and/or attending a more advanced course should one be held in the future.

Speakers Bank participants have commenced their public speaking engagements including:

  • Lions Club of Footscray
  • annecto’s AGM
  • WRDN launch of the “Model” document and Strategic Plan 2007-2010. (Other participants presented awards and cut ribbons).

The Speakers Bank was managed on as as-needs basis by the Executive Officer of the WRDN and the MetroAccess worker from Maribyrnong Council. A flyer has been produced and a booking form developed. Support to individuals in the form of personal/attendant care and assistance to develop a presentation have been provided ad-hoc by these workers.

Circa 2011

Since obtaining the one-off grant from the Department of Human Services in 2011, Speakers Bank has been able to recruit 24 Person with a disability and/or carers to share with the community the story of their lives, their challenges and triumphs!

They have all obtained some training in Public Speaking, even those living in regional Victoria such as Mildura have been able to actively participate in training through the great web conferencing facility available at all annecto offices.

During this year Speakers Bank, has created a website on which one can view the bio and a short youtube video of each and every Speaker, and one can also book a speaker to talk to their organisations. The Speakers Bank Youtube channel has been quite popular with almost 10,000 hits since its creation in October 2011!

Speakers Bank has been able to secure over 30 Speaking engagements in Victorian University, TAFE and educational centres, in Service Clubs such as Rotary and Lions, in secondary schools and in several disability oriented forums and conferences with the aim to discuss attitudes in regards to people with disability in non-threatening environment and hence foster acceptance of diversity in order to create a more inclusive society.

Speakers Bank since 2013 (Highlights)

  • 2013
    • recruitment of a new Project Officer.
  • 2014
    • recruitment of new speakers
    • participation in community events
    • participation in community awards
    • more grants application/writing – some were successful in securing grants
    • charting more activities and new direction for Speakers Bank
    • training provided to Speakers.
  • 2015
    • 3rd Place Winner – Seddon Community Bank Branch Local Competition for Community Groups (Pitch Event)
    • re-design of Speakers Bank Website
    • more on-line presence and activity (developing more presence through Facebook, Twitter, updating Youtube videos and encouraging speakers to try blogging and doing online work)
    • volunteer program audit on Speakers Bank
    • increased partnerships developed with other community groups/ not-for-profit organisations
    • increased media work through radio guestings
  • 2016
    • We partnered with another not-for-profit organisation Wear for Success that provided clothing for our speakers to use during their gigs.
    • We on-boarded new speakers to join the team.
    • Speakers Bank was represented at the Long Term Unemployment Conference held in Brisbane, with a poster presentation.
  • 2016
    • We were exploring the idea of moving into a social enterprise set up and we participated in a social enterprise incubator program called “Two Feet” facilitated by The Difference Incubator (TDI Inc). We learned about different ways of delivering our services to become more sustainable as a program.
    • Mimi Laurilla was also able to attend an International Social Enterprise Forum held at Christchurch in New Zealand. The opportunity enabled her to learn more about social enterprise and listen to experiences of other organisations.
    • This was also the year where we began our work with older people or the seniors. We held seniors story telling workshops in Wyndham as part of our Community Strengthening Grant. We also consistently participated in the Wyndham Seniors Festival.
    • We have also delivered public speaking workshops for Hobsons Bay through the Community Access Grants.
    • We welcomed our first work placement student from Victoria University. This started the continuous partnership with Vic Uni for student placements taking courses in Community Development, Disability and Community Services.
    • Speakers Bank Speakers won awards at the Inspire Awards Victoria, given to individuals who have contributed to the community. The awards were funded through the Supreme Court of Victoria.
  • 2018
    • Launch of the Speakers Bank podcast – We finally launched the Speakers Bank Podcast “ Our Voices, Our Views” at the VALID Conference in Geelong. Currently all episodes are published in YouTube. Our hosts are Storm Robbins, Nathan Slachter and Kathryn Tomkins. We talk about a variety of Topics in relation to disability.
    • Speakers Bank had undergone its first external audit as an organisation and it received very good feedback.
    • We delivered our first ever team presentation. It was for the Murray City Country Coast GP Training where approximately 60-80 GPs of Ballarat and surrounding municipalities attended.
    • Our team also started to speak to children of kinder and primary school levels.
    • We participated at several Deakin University Freelancing Hub student projects.
    • We actively spoke at various International Day for People with Disabilities events.
  • 2019
    • Speakers Bank welcomes students of Federation University and JTI College for their work placements.
    • Social Enterprise official launch to be delivered through various activities such as community promotions, re-vamp of the Speakers Bank website, delivery of promotional gigs/events and the establishment of a pop op community op shop.
    • We also launched the Speakers Bank Podcast for seniors, also to be published via YouTube.