Monday, December 3, 2012

An important day needs important commitments

It is December 3rd, again, which means it is International Day of People with Disability.  As I've mentioned in previous years, having just one day to think about disability seems odd, especially if the rest of the time the topic is then far from most people's attention.

But this year has been different in Australia, with disability making a regular appearance in the news because of the work developing a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

So this year's 'special' day is perhaps an opportunity to reflect on the importance of how ideas and values are translated into accountable actions.

This morning Purple Orange was at the Enfield community centre in Adelaide, where the local council, the city of Port Adelaide Enfield, launched its five year Disability Discrimination Action Plan.

It felt right the council chose this day, International Day of People with Disability, because their new action plan goes beyond considerations of access to establish a broader context of inclusion. The plan includes a range of important access considerations– such as ramps, walkways, building features and restrooms –but also goes further. It looks at the role of the disability community in council decisions that affect people living with disability. It looks at workforce issues, not just in terms of awareness-raising but also how best to maximise opportunities for people living with disability to join the council workforce. It looks at how the council can serve its citizens so everyone feels included in that community, as authentic members of the club called City of Port Adelaide Enfield.

Purple Orange had the privilege of working alongside Port Adelaide Enfield in developing this plan. We assisted their public consultation, and provided support to think through the key issues. The plan includes a range of practical initiatives to help the council advance the goal of an inclusive community.  There is good energy in the council to make things happen.

International Day of People with Disability represents an opportunity for people and communities to commit to accountable actions in support of people living with disability getting a fair go at what life has to offer. Port Adelaide Enfield's Disability Discrimination Action Plan sends an important positive signal for local people living with disability.

for a copy of the plan, click here.
Currently, Purple Orange is working with several councils on how their services might help advance the life chances for people living with disability.  In this work, it is clear to us that an important ingredient is the passion and commitment of key officers involved, and their inclination to take action in support of positive changes.
Such values-based personal leadership can help real momentum to build, and its great to see it in the work of local councils.