The NSW Government is working on creating more inclusive and accessible communities for people with disability.

The NSW Disability Inclusion Plan 2021-2025 was launched on November 19 by Alister Henskens, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services.

The four-year plan builds on previous work of the government and provides the framework for it to work towards a more inclusive society.

“It presents the overall statement of intent from the NSW Government and identifies the key focus areas for NSW to remove systemic and attitudinal barriers so that people with disability have a better opportunity to live a meaningful life and enjoy the full benefits of membership in the community,” the plan said.

The government will work with the community and various stakeholders, including people with disability, local council, peak bodies, Disability Council NSW and the Department of Communities and Justice.

This Plan will mostly be implemented through Disability Inclusion Action Plans (DIAPs) delivered by local councils and government Clusters.

The Plan is the second edition of the NSW Disability Inclusion Plan and builds on NSW Disability Inclusion Plan 2015-2019.

Projects delivered under the previous plan include accessible stations along Sydney’s Metro, lift upgrades at TAFE campuses and the Employable Me TV series, which promoted employment pathways for people with disability.

“The attitudes and behaviours of the general community towards people with disability can be the greatest barrier to full access and inclusion.”

Improving community attitudes

The plan will focus on four areas, including positive community attitudes and behaviours, creating liveable communities, better access to meaningful employment and improving access to mainstream services.

To change community attitudes, the government is looking to build community awareness about the rights and capabilities of people with disability.

“The attitudes and behaviours of the general community towards people with disability can be the greatest barrier to full access and inclusion,” the plan said.

“Community attitudes can further be influenced by the intersection of the particular characteristics of a person with disability, such as gender, age, ethnicity, or the type of disability itself.”

The Disability Council NSW will work with the Department of Communities and Justice to hold forums with local government to develop more community awareness.

Transport for NSW will consult people with disability and will ensure their feedback is valued and acted upon to create a more inclusive transport system.

“Inclusiveness and accessibility for people with disability forms a crucial component of the assessment of the liveability of any community.”

Encouraging participation in community

To encourage participation of people with disability in all aspects of community life, government will ensure that its departmental buildings and services are accessible and inclusive for all people.

“Inclusiveness and accessibility for people with disability forms a crucial component of the assessment of the liveability of any community,” the plan said. 

The NSW Government will progressively increase the availability and accessibility of public and private transport options for people with disability, including people living in regional and rural areas.

It will also develop an engagement program, including a handbook for local councils, to help them better prevent and respond to abuse.

Meaningful employment

The third focus of the plan is on increasing the number of people with disability in meaningful employment.

“Employment rates for people with disability are significantly lower than those without disability across all sectors,” the plan said.

“Participation in meaningful employment is vital if people with disability are to attain economic security, retain a sense of purpose and engage effectively with others in our society.”

The government aims to implement the Premier’s Priority to ensure that 5.6 per cent of all government sector roles are held by people with disability by 2025.

“Employment rates for people with disability are significantly lower than those without disability across all sectors.”

Better access to services

The final focus of the plan is to ensure that people with disability have access to mainstream government services.

“A common issue for people with disability is the difficulty in navigating the systems and processes required to access the services and supports they need in the community,” the plan said. 

“These difficulties are the product of a number of barriers including a lack of accessible information, inflexible processes, and limited opportunities for feedback and input.”

The government will build an education system for children with disability to develop good physical, mental and emotional health and gain skills to live independently when they complete their schooling.

The More Jobs More Care initiative from the government will help the care sector to invest, train and retain new workers to support people with disability.

“These initiatives are examples of the work our government agencies and local councils are doing to create more inclusive communities, by improving access to services and removing barriers to participating in society,” Mr Henskens said in a statement.

Under the NSW Disability Inclusion Act 2014, NSW government bodies and local councils are required to report annually on the progress they have made on their DIAPs.

All reporting must be provided to the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, who is required to table a report on the implementation of DIAPs across the NSW Government and local councils in the NSW Parliament.

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