The Zero Barriers Business Excellence Awards held July 25 at the Bankstown Learning and Knowledge Centre celebrated businesses and organisations, particularly in multicultural communities, across South West Sydney working to make their practices more inclusive for people with disabilities.
Awards were made to those leading the way in five categories. From the 37 nominees, the winners for each category were:
Community Category — Muslim Women’s Association
Innovation Category — MTC Liverpool
Small to Medium Business — Crezent Eatery, Condell Park
Large Business — Rashays, Punchbowl
Sports and recreation — C&M Swimming Club, Padstow
Led by The Multicultural Network and supported by Settlement Services International (SSI), the South West Bankstown Chamber of Commerce and the Canterbury Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool councils, the initiative has developed into a movement and a challenge that more businesses are embracing.
“The diversity in cultures and worldviews that make up South West Sydney, alongside a strong entrepreneurship and business ethic, has fuelled the success of the project and the understanding that it makes good business sense to be inclusive,” Wally Mehanna, CEO of the South West Bankstown Chamber of Commerce, said.
Minister for Disability and Multiculturalism, Ray Williams, attended the awards alongside Khal Asfour, Mayor for Canterbury Bankstown. Both reiterated the commitment of state and local governments to continue working to implement their respective disability inclusion action plans.
SSI’s multicultural disability inclusion officer, Javier Ortiz, said: “It is great to see how many businesses have embraced making some small changes to their practices. The ripple effect from that can have profound effects not only to individuals but also to entire communities.”
SSI’s CEO and Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Violet Roumeliotis said: “Migrants have a history of being engaged in small businesses, which are often seen as the cornerstone of migrant communities. The inclusive attitudes displayed by those businesses in South West Sydney and the involvement of local governments demonstrate the inclusive and welcoming environment that newcomers of all abilities settling in the region can expect.”
The year-long Zero Barriers project involved presentations to businesses, the development of a checklist, guidelines and stickers designed by local children with disabilities.
Those businesses and organisations that displayed inclusive attitudes towards reducing barriers received the sticker and could nominate themselves for the Zero Barriers Awards.
SSI, along with the organisations and local governments involved in the project, will continue to support businesses working to reduce their barriers and showcase examples of why it is important to build inclusive practices in businesses and in all other areas of community life.
Through SSI’s Disability Employment Enterprise and programs such as Ability Links and FutureAbility, a whole of community approach will continue to ensure that inclusive attitudes and practices are embedded in migrant communities, ensuring that people of all abilities are well supported and empowered to achieve their full potential.
Image caption: SSI Multicultural Disability Inclusion Officer, Javier Ortiz, with Minister for Disability and Multiculturalism, Ray Williams