Councils innovate to improve disability access across NSW


The Minns Labor Government has recommitted itself to increasing disability access across NSW after tabling the 2021-22 NSW Public Authorities Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) Progress Report.

The annual report highlights the work public sector departments and local councils are doing to increase employment opportunities and access to public spaces for people with disability, but also reveals there’s still more work to be done.

Local councils continue to deliver a range of initiatives to improve the lives of people with disability.

The report notes the Blue Mountains City Council is making a particularly positive impact with its initiatives. This includes making the Eastern Escarpment more accessible, providing trampolines for wheelchair users at Glenbrook and hosting Mental Health First Aid workshops for frontline council staff.

Other councils across NSW are also implementing initiatives to help more people with disability find work, improve access to services and build more inclusive communities. Here is a snapshot of what some councils delivered in 2021-22:

  • Byron Bay Shire Council approved a number of developments that included adaptable housing.
  • Wollongong Shire Council created a youth centre quiet space, including dimmable lights, fidget toys and other sensory items. A quiet space was also provided as part of its annual Comic Gong festival.
  • Cumberland City Council hosted an art exhibition curated by and featuring artists with disability.
  • Sutherland Shire Council held a monthly connection cafe for people with dementia and their carers.

While there has been a lot of good work done across the state, the report recommends public sector agencies redouble their efforts to improve public sector employment for people with disability.

The Minns Labor Government is committed to increasing public sector disability employment following ten years of indifference under the former Liberal Government.

Under the Disability Inclusion Act 2014, all authorities in NSW must develop a DIAP which provides a public commitment to accessibility and inclusion.

To learn more about the progress councils and other public authorities are making for people with disability, visit DCJ.

Minister for Disability Inclusion Kate Washington said:

“The Minns Labor Government is committed to improving the lives of people with disability. The latest Disability Inclusion Action Plan Progress Report shows local councils around NSW continue to innovate and make their communities more inclusive.

“While natural disasters present ongoing challenges for some local government areas, it’s pleasing to see councils remain focussed on achieving positive outcomes for people with disability.

“Many councils are doing it well, but there’s always more to do, especially when it comes to increasing employment for people with disability.”

Minister for Local Government Ron Hoenig said:

“Councils have a responsibility to support the diverse needs of the communities they are elected to represent. Ensuring people living with disability must be afforded equal access to opportunities and can enjoy accessible public spaces is an essential part of this.

“It’s great to see positive examples highlighted in the report and I encourage local councils to continue the important work they are doing to improve the lives of people living with disability.”

Blue Mountains City Council Mayor Mark Greenhill said:

“Equal access and opportunity is a fundamental human right and we want everyone who lives, works or visits the Blue Mountains to be able to experience all this special place has to offer.

“People with disability can face additional barriers to everyday activities like employment, recreation and services and there can often be simple ways to reduce or remove these. That’s why involving individuals with lived experience in consultation and decision-making is so central to improving accessibility and inclusion for everyone in the community.

“There’s always more work to do and our DIAP continues to provide a clear guide to help improve outcomes for people with disability across the Blue Mountains.”

Disability Council NSW Chair Jane Spring said:

“We know people with disability can face additional barriers to achieving employment, for example, and there are steps agencies can take to remove these.

“Whether it’s by undertaking targeted campaigns, providing centralised funding for workplace adjustments for staff, or offering trainee programs, there are many ways organisations can get on board. I encourage departments and local councils to continue to maximise the engagement of people with disability in every stage of their disability inclusion planning process.

“Importantly, I also encourage senior executives to be disability champions to further the inclusion of people with disability in every aspect of society.”

Local Government NSW President Darriea Turley said:

“Local Councils play a vital role in our communities and this report highlights the many ways they are making a difference for people with disability. A good DIAP provides a strong foundation to make positive change and it’s clear councils are doing their bit.”

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