Kymberly Martin
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City of Sydney getting on with accessibility

 People with a disability, carers, disability workers and disability organisations are being urged to speak out and share their experiences to help shape the City of Sydney’s inclusion action plan.

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The consultation will investigate the less visible barriers people may face, including lack of community awareness, community attitudes, behaviours and difficulty accessing information, services or employment. It will also explore the physical barriers that may prevent people with disability from moving around the city and accessing public spaces, parks, playgrounds and facilities.

“Our vision is for an inclusive and accessible city, where people with disability have equitable opportunities to participate in every aspect of social and cultural life, as well as access to meaningful employment and participation in the decision making process,” Lord Mayor, Clover Moore said.

“We know that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened existing inequalities for many people with disability and those caring for someone with disability. We want to hear about your experiences and work with you to create a more inclusive, accessible and liveable city.”

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City of Sydney’s Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel, chair, Mark Tonga has experienced many of these barriers first-hand. As a tetraplegic, he faces many physical barriers but it is the invisible obstacles such as community attitudes and perceptions that are at the top of his list for further action.

“Once you start shifting attitudes and perceptions, everything else will follow,” Tonga said. “Changing attitudes and influencing the narrative around disability and inclusion will help shape policies, overcome physical barriers and create new opportunities.”

Covid-19 has created both opportunities and challenges for people with disability, he said. 

“People who have been unable to leave their homes have been able to experience virtual visits to museums, galleries and libraries through online platforms.”

Fellow advisory panel member, Tara Elliffe has benefited from greater access to services now being offered online. “I’m doing online yoga classes twice a week and am also enjoying work meetings and advocacy meetings online.”

Lack of community awareness, access to affordable housing and health services were ongoing challenges for people with disability with a lack of community awareness, especially for people like herself with Down syndrome. She encouraged people with disability to be involved in the consultation and to share their experiences.

Online workshops will be held on:

  • September 22, 1pm–2.30pm – community workshop
  • September 24, 5–6.30pm – community workshop
  • September 30, 10am–11.30am – disability sector workshop.

To register visit: https://cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/council/your-say/help-us-create-a-more-inclusive-and-accessible-city-for-people-with-disability

Community consultation closes on October 9, 2020.