UPDATE - 20 April 2023

Council endorsed the Disability Action Plan 2022-2026 at the 18 April 2023 Council meeting.

If you have any further questions about the Disability Action Plan please email: communitydevelopment@maribyrnong.vic.gov.au

Reducing the barriers - help us with our disability planning

Council plays a vital role as a leader, partner, advocate, and planner in protecting and promoting the health and wellbeing of our community and is committed to supporting people with disability and those who assist them.

We know from conversations with people with disability and carers during 2021 that they feel more can be done to increase their Voice and Influence, Social and Cultural Connection, and the Attitudes and Awareness of others towards them.

By creating accessible, inclusive, and participatory communities, Council hopes to reduce barriers, promote inclusion, and change practices that discriminate against people with disability.

Three women, wearing brightly coloured shirts, are sitting down in a row. One of the women is sitting in a wheelchair and all three are looking at the camera and smiling. They are in a community hall as part of a community event.

Share your ideas

What actions could we take to increase connection and participation for and with people with disability? Think about things relating to accessibility, inclusion, and participation.

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By the numbers

*In 2021, 4,523 people (or 5.3% of the population) of the City of Maribyrnong reported needing help in their day-to-day lives due to disability - that's an increase of 676 people from the previous census in 2016.

Those age 20-50 were identified as the largest emerging group.

7,849 carers were also providing unpaid assistance to a person with a disability, long-term illness, or old age.

Additionally, nearly 10% of residents (8,446) identified as having a long-term mental health condition.

This spiked during COVID. 53% of respondents to Council's Annual Community Satisfaction Survey in 2019 reported experiencing isolation, anxiety, a complete lack of motivation, or stress.

(*Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Social Model of Disability

Council relies on the social model of disability as the lens by which to develop its disability policies.

It recognises both physical (lack of ramp entry to buildings) and social (people's attititudes) barriers make life harder for people with disability and that removing them offers people with disability the opportunity to live full lives and equally participate.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations identifies four main common barriers:

  • Attitudinal: created by people who only see the disability when associating with people with disabilities in some way. These attitudinal barriers can be witnessed through bullying, discrimination, and fear. They include low expectations of people with disabilities and contribute to all other barriers.
  • Environmental: inaccessible environments, natural or built, create barriers to inclusion. Examples include:
    • sidewalks and doorways too narrow for a wheelchair, scooter, or walker.
    • desks too high for a person who is using a wheelchair, or other mobility device.
    • poor lighting making it difficult for a person with low vision or a person who lip-reads to see.
    • doorknobs that are difficult to grasp for a person with arthritis.
  • Institutional: includes many laws, policies, practices, or strategies that discriminate against people with disabilities. Examples include:
    • denying reasonable adjustments to qualified individuals with disabilities, so they can perform essential functions of the job for which they have applied or have been hired to perform.
    • public transport is not accessible to people with disability, which acts as a barrier in their day-to-day lives and reduces the ability of people with disabilities to participate fully in community life.
  • Communication: impacts people who have disabilities that affect hearing, speaking, reading, writing, and/or understanding, and who use different ways to communicate than people who do not have a disability. Examples include:
    • written health messages inaccessible to people who are blind or vision impaired from receiving the message because of:
      • small print, and
      • no Braille or electronic versions for people who use screen readers.
    • auditory health messages may be inaccessible to people who are deaf or have hearing loss from receiving the message because:
      • videos do not include captioning or Auslan
    • complicated health messages may be inaccessible to people with a cognitive disability from receiving the message because:
      • they use technical language, long sentences, and words with many syllables which are not provided in Plain Language or Easy English.

The alternative to the social model is the medical model which infers people are disabled by their impairments or differences and consistently points out what is ‘wrong’ with the person. This approach creates low expectations, disempowers, and removes choice and control.

Related Legislation

There are numerous pieces of legislation that support inclusivity for people with disability, not least the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. This makes it a legal requirement for local government to provide equal access to employment, public buildings, goods, services, and facilities, and unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of disability.

Several peak bodies oversee the implementation of the legislation.

Australia is also a signatory to the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD), which protects and promotes the human rights of people with disability.

Other Commonwealth and State legislation relevant to the development of the Disability Action Plan and Disability Advisory Committees include:

Relevant policies, bodies, and strategies specifically include the Council Plan 2021-25 and the Strategic Objective 'A Place for All' that states: Council will provide well-planned neighbourhoods and a strong local economy, delivering services that are inclusive and accessible to the whole community, and that support wellbeing, healthy and safe living, connection to the community, and cultural interaction.

Disability in Australia

Despite the almost overwhelming volume of legislation, policies, strategies, and advocacy organisations in place, people with disability still face consistent discrimination in Australia.

What is more alarming but less known, is that while people with disabilities account for 15% of the world’s population, disability discrimination makes up nearly half (44%) of all complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

People with Disability in Australia 2022 from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare cites some recent and worrying trends on the current plight of people with disability.

For example, 22% of people over the age of 15 with disability experienced some form of discrimination compared to 15% without disability. In short, people with disability are more likely to experience unemployment, live in poverty, be more socially isolated and have poor health outcomes than those without disability.