Camden Council is the first council in NSW to be accredited with the Communication Access Symbol from Scope Australia. The council was trained and assessed by disability provider Northcott, the only Approved Communication Access Assessment Organisation in NSW.
The symbol enables people to know the organisation or service they are accessing is communication accessible and:
- Staff are welcoming and treat everyone with dignity and respect
- Staff communicate successfully with people with communication difficulties; and
- Communication tools are available to help people get their message across and understand what people are telling them.
Northcott speech pathologist, Katrina McNamee, said it was vital more organisations that value inclusion apply for the Communication Access Symbol.
“People who communicate in ways other than speech often feel they are ignored, discriminated against and treated as a child,” McNamee said. “But when staff use communication strategies, people with communication difficulties feel understood and respected.
“Communication access is an important part of universal inclusion and the value reaches beyond those with a disability, people from non-English speaking backgrounds, people with short term speech issues and anyone who appreciates patience and clear communication will all benefit from the same attitudes, strategies and resources.
“I’m impressed by the commitment to inclusion that Camden Council has shown during this process. They are setting a clear example for creating a genuinely inclusive society where everyone can participate as independently as possible,” she said.
Northcott CEO, Liz Forsyth, said: “Northcott is proud to be the only approved communication access assessor in NSW. Eliminating communication barriers so that everyone, regardless of their abilities, cultural or linguistic background, can understand messages or be understood is crucial in building a society that is genuinely inclusive and accessible for all. We are delighted to have assisted Camden Council to be the first Council in NSW to achieve accreditation.”
Council staff in key customer service areas completed communication access training and assessment in February this year.
Accredited sites include Camden Council Administration Building in Oran Park as well as Camden, Oran Park and Narellan Libraries.
Camden Mayor, Theresa Fedeli said it was important for the entire community to feel welcome.
“Council is here to support every single resident in the Camden area, and it is imperative for our staff to be able to assist anyone at any time,” she said. “We have over 110 nationalities, 85 countries of birth, 64 languages and 38 religions represented in Camden.”
Attaining the Communication Access Symbol Accreditation follows on from Camden Council also receiving Changing Places Accreditation for its all-inclusive water play spaces at Dawson-Damer Park, Oran Park and Curry Reserve Water Play Space, Elderslie.
A review process will occur on an annual basis for Council to obtain ongoing accreditation.
Camden Mayor Theresa Fedeli, Northcott communications access assessor, Sevinc Maccue and Northcott speech pathologist, Katrina McNamee.