THE launch of Gippsland Disability Advocacy’s (GDA) ‘The Living Experiences of COVID-19 and Disability in Bass Coast’ was a success with more than 60 people attending the premiere screening.

The project captured the voices and experiences of people with disabilities in Bass Coast during COVID-19 and was showcased for the first time at Wonthaggi Baptist Church earlier this year.

The short films feature people across a range of ages who have disability, carers, and various community members insights including Bass Coast Shire Mayor, Cr Brett Tessari.

The project began in mid-2020, and Gippsland Disability Advocacy’s Kristin Nuske had the vision to turn the concept into reality.

“My position was fairly new in Bass Coast and I believe the life of the project will provide a good opportunity for the community to have a greater awareness of disability advocacy,” Ms Nuske said.

“It involved people with a disability, their carers and family members. It was really to focus on what were their experiences during COVID, the sorts of supports that were available and those which weren’t.

“Many people spoke about new challenges because of COVID and how these were overcome.

“From an organisational perspective, our interest was to share the learnings based on the various experiences of people with unique challenges to our peak representatives, our local community and our wider disability network.

“Because of my advocacy work and the connections I have made, I approached a number of people that I felt would be willing to contribute and who may have a valuable story to tell.”

Ms Nuske said GDA was fortunate to receive a grant for the project from Bass Coast Shire Council, and while the project had taken longer than expected to complete, the process of interviewing participants was wonderful and added to the overall success.

“There was significant planning involved but the actual filming took longer due to COVID as for most of last year we couldn’t do face-to-face and interview people,” she said.

GDA was grateful for the many helpers, in particular the last-minute assistance with the screening of the film.

“As the project is now complete, we are very proud of this compilation lead by our participants.

“These extraordinary personal accounts which emphasise the real and personal struggles of people living with a disability and too the resilience of our community in the face of this pandemic.

“This was celebrated and certainly apparent at the launch.

“The event was really lovely. We had about 60 people or so including the participants and members of their family.

“We had people that travelled from Melbourne and across Gippsland, a few of our staff attended, many stakeholders to whom GDA have worked with over many years and local council delegates.”

GDA’s mission and vision is to advocate, promote and be responsive to the welfare, rights and interested of people with disabilities, and to build a more inclusive community; their vision is through advocacy, where people with disabilities are empowered to exercise their rights.

To view the films, visit facebook.com/gippslanddisabilityadvocacy or gdai.com.au.