Speaking over the stigma

Kimly speaks out against stigmatising disability in the Vietnamese community.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A shopping trip with her son in Springvale turned into a heart-breaking event for Kimly.

Another shopper stared at her son’s face and asked her if he had a disease.

Kimly’s son, who has Down Syndrome, sometimes asks her why people look at him strangely.

She says often other people in the Vietnamese community tell her that she has a disabled child due to bad karma – for doing something wrong in her previous life.

Many disabled infants and children in Vietnam are abandoned and orphaned due to the stigma, she says.

Kimly is part of a Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health video campaign to tackle stigma around disability in ethnic communities.

The centre says that fear of discrimination from one’s own cultural community has emerged as a barrier to people applying for NDIS services.

The challenge was finding people like Kimly who had the courage to speak.

Other speakers included a woman of Egyptian and Italian background who is vision impaired and a man of Croatian background talking about mental health.

Kimly’s advice is for parents not to be reluctant to seek services to help their children.

“Disability is not really bad, not the worst … There’s things that are a lot worse than disabilities.

“Don’t worry about that – just do what you can for your children.”

The videos are available at healthtranslations.vic.gov.au.

The program is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.