Speakers Bank was established in Victoria in 2006 as a partnership project between Disability Connections Victoria (DCV), formerly the Western Region Disability Network, and the MetroAccess Program of Maribyrnong Council, in conjunction with Carers Victoria and Toastmasters. Expressions of interest were open to people with disability, their carers and families, who were interested in participating in a course in public speaking and were members of DCV. 11 people successfully completed the course and became ongoing Speakers Bank members, supported to develop presentations and attend public speaking engagements for local organisations.
When the program commenced, the DCV was auspiced by WiN (Western including Northern) Support Service. This auspicing arrangement transferred to Annecto in 2004 when WiN Support Services and Annecto merged.
In 2011, supported by a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Speakers Bank was able to appoint a Program Coordinator and recruit an additional 24 speakers, including people with disability living in regional Victoria, provide them with training in public speaking and support them to present over 30 speaking engagements for organisations including universities, training institutes, secondary schools and service clubs. Our speakers aimed to share their lived experience and discuss attitudes towards people with disability, encouraging acceptance and creating a more inclusive society. The DHHS funding also allowed Speakers Bank to create a website and YouTube channel.
An Annecto enterprise
With the closure of DCV in 2014, Speakers Bank became an Annecto program and continued to be funded through the DHHS Home and Community Care (HACC) / Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) until 2018, when changes to their funding eligibility criteria made the program ineligible for continued support.
Speakers Bank has since been supported by Annecto and a series of small grants from Wyndham City Council, Hobsons Bay Council, Brimbank Council and Victorian Government Volunteer Grants.
In 2016, Speakers Bank participated in the Two Feet social enterprise incubator program facilitated by The Difference Incubator and was represented at the 2017 Social Enterprise World Forum in New Zealand. As an Annecto Enterprise, alongside Coolamon Aboriginal Arts Hub, Front Door Recycling and You Want You Should, Speakers Bank is supported to expand its reach and influence, recruiting speakers and delivering speaking engagements across Australia.
Speakers Bank has partnered with Victoria University, Federation University, Job Training Institute and Wear For Success. In 2016, a Wyndham Community Strengthening Grant supported Speakers Bank to deliver seniors storytelling workshops for the Wyndham Seniors Festival and Community Access Grants from Hobsons Bay allowed us to deliver public speaking workshops for community. Our speakers have presented for organisations including Red Cross, Monash University, RMIT University, Deakin University, Warner Institute, Griffith Business School, TAFE and Casey FM radio. They have spoken at events including the VALID ‘Having a Say’ Conferences, from 2017 to 2020, the 2016 Long Term Unemployment Conference in Brisbane and the 2018 Murray City Country Coast GP training.