Inclusion (disability) advisory panel 2021 meetings
Summary notes from this year’s meetings.
At the panel meeting on 8 December, City staff provided an overview of applications received for new members of the panel.
A total of 165 applications were received including 104 people with lived experience of disability; 57 people with lived experience of mental health conditions; 49 people with experience as carers, 5 people who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and 54 people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. New panel members will be recommended to the CEO and Council for appointment by City Staff and the Chair and co-Chair of the panel.
Following an overview of the Inclusion (Disability) Action Plan Annual Report 2020/21, the panel congratulated the City on the rolling out new disability awareness training for almost 1800 employees. Making the training compulsory for all employees is a significant step in shifting community attitudes.
The panel recommended the City consider developing refresher content for all employees and develop a program of targeted specialist training for specific staff to build professional competency. This could include understanding access in the built environment, inclusive communication practices and trauma informed care training.
City of Sydney employees outlined plans for people with disability to identify places where the City can improve footway accessibility. This information, as well as information collected through audits and regular inspections of footways, will help set the priorities for the annual program of access upgrades and renewal projects. The panel supported the approach, which aims to improve safety and accessibility across the local area. The panel also proposed that key disability peak groups, their members and the community be invited to engage in these activities.
City of Sydney employees are in early stages of developing a guide for people with disability and others to understand how to get involved in various council decision making processes. The panel encouraged the City to make information accessible to as many people as possible by ensuring that content is:
- written in plain English
- translated into Easy Read and community languages
- available in print form for those with no or limited internet access.
They also encouraged the City to include more contextual information such as an introduction about role and responsibilities of Council and an overview of how committee and council meetings work.
City of Sydney employees presented an update on becoming an IncludeAbility Network member of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the achievement of becoming a Disability Confident Recruiter employer. The panel provided input on increasing meaningful employment for people with disability.
The panel noted work experience and leadership opportunities will help create career pathways. People with disability should be encouraged to disclose their disability throughout the course of their employment. The City should use this data to measure the progress of the Inclusion (Disability) Action Plan. Information about roles and the recruitment process should be provided in alternative formats such as Easy Read.
The panel also provided feedback on the recruitment selection process for new panel members for 2022. This includes ensuring that the process is accessible for everyone, selecting people with diverse experiences – such as parents with disability – and carers of people experiencing mental health conditions.
The panel also continued to discuss the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Key issues include the confusing messaging about vaccinations and restrictions, as well as increased infection risk faced by people with disability and people experiencing mental health conditions, particularly where someone receives support from multiple support workers. The panel reminded everyone to be mindful, kind, compassionate and check in with each other to allow people to unload fears and stress about the Covid-19 situation.
City of Sydney employees presented an update on the street furniture project. The panel provided input on the accessibility of the street furniture.
The panel noted automated public toilets should be externally accessible and internally accessible with visual information. The new inclusion (disability) action plan should continue to advocate for an increase in adult change facilities across the City of Sydney local area. It was suggested unused street kiosks could provide tenancy opportunities to employ people with disability.
The panel provided feedback on the recruitment process for new panel members for 2022. This included considering the selection panel containing a majority of people with lived experience, the use of social media to recruit and the importance of inclusive language.
The panel also continued to discuss the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Key issues include the lack of consistent messaging about vaccinations, difficulties in getting a booking and the capacity restrictions on venues.
Sabrina Houssami was announced as the incoming Chair for 2021. City of Sydney staff and the panel thanked Mark for his 3 years of service as previous Chair.
City of Sydney employees presented the findings from the Public Spaces and Public Life Study 2020 by Jan Gehl. The panel provided input on the accessibility of the city’s public domain.
The panel noted for people who are blind or have low vision that correct placement of objects and using high colour contrast is critical to independently navigate the city. For people with mobility access requirements it is important they also have access through green spaces, not just outside them.
The panel also provided feedback on the measures for the draft inclusion (disability) action plan 2021–2025. The panel commended the City of Sydney for its approach to measurement and evaluation. The panel noted that the focus on less visible disabilities and the City of Sydney’s commitment to employment was motivating.
Panel members and City of Sydney employees observed one minute of silence in respect of the passing of Leonie Jackson. Leonie's passion and advocacy of Deaf culture and her contributions to the panel will be remembered.
City of Sydney employees presented the draft inclusion (disability) action plan, including priority issues identified and the draft actions. The panel provided feedback on the draft actions and commended the thorough plan.
The panel also discussed the impacts of Covid-19 for people with disability. It noted it’s critical that access to information is available to all people with disability in various alternative formats. Particularly about the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination, especially for people using Braille and for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.