Survivors telling their stories in the Yarra Ranges

'Storytellers' in the Yarra Ranges will be part of the 'Hidden Voices' initiative beginning on 10 May. PICTURE: UNSPLASH

By Tyler Wright

Residents throughout the Dandenong Ranges and the Yarra Valley are sharing their powerful and unique stories as part of an upcoming ‘Hidden Voices’ initiative.

The Eastern Community Legal Centre (ECLC) is leading the project in partnership with the Lilydale and Yarra Ranges community to have important stories from family violence and sexual abuse survivors, as well as those who have suffered with their mental health, told.

“We’ve been doing some work with the Lilydale Revitalization Board, which is a State Government initiative working to invigorate the Lilydale area,” ECLC CEO Michael Smith said.

“We thought it was a really good chance to highlight some of the different diversity amongst the community in Lilydale and have some people share their experiences and stories [that] might not be typical.

“People might say, ‘I’ve never met someone who’s got a disability’, or ‘I’ve never met someone who’s had mental health issues or experienced family violence’ and people might come and… have a conversation about what their experience is like,” Mr Smith said.

Local organisations, such as Anchor, Inspiro, Cire, Box Hill Institute and local council have helped ECLC source the ‘storytellers’ for the events.

“We had a training session this week at Box Hill Institute where we ran with some trainers, so people can understand how they can share their story in a safe way,” Mr Smith said.

“These are people who are not still in the middle of a traumatic experience, it’s something in the past for them, and they’ve learnt to work through that.

It’s really important to be safe for everybody and to be respectful in those conversations.”

Community members will be able to engage with these storytellers over four different sessions, each covering different topics like women in trades, coming from a culturally diverse background, being a charity founder and working with Indigenous communities, Mr Smith said.

The events will be held at Lilydale Library, Lilydale Community House and the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum.

Registration is required to attend and more information is available at