The International Day of People with Disability was celebrated this week on 3 December with the theme of "Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities" and a particular focus on making cities inclusive and accessible for all.
This provided an ideal opportunity for Local Government to reflect on the positive changes it has made to the lives of the many Australians living with a disability. Local Government has played – and continues to play – an important role in breaking down barriers and realising an inclusive society for all and has been proactive in the area of disability for many years.
As a major provider of goods, services and facilities, Local Government contributes to enabling people with disabilities to participate equally in their communities. It also contributes to the social, recreational and cultural life of people living with disabilities in their communities by providing accessible services and a more accessible physical environment.
Often councils are also innovators and leaders in how they respond to the special needs of their communities, developing local level solutions to meet the needs of people living with disabilities in their communities.
The National Disability Strategy (NDS) has been fundamental to driving the implementation of plans across Local Government responding to the unique needs, requirements and expectations of local communities. ALGA has worked closely with state and territory Local Government associations to promote the NDS to councils for use in developing disability plans and ensuring the needs of people with disabilities are duly considered in the planning process. ALGA is exploring options with the Commonwealth Government to revise the Disability Discrimination Guide for Local Government which could include incorporating the objectives of the NDS and new requirements such as access to premises and access to public transport.
Mayor Troy Pickard