City of Newcastle champions disability inclusion with launch of Count Us In festival

09 Aug 2023

City of Newcastle will team up with 2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott next month to champion opportunities for people with a disability in the workplace.

The gold medal-winning wheelchair tennis player will serve up a message of advocacy and inclusion in employment during City of Newcastle’s annual Count Us In festival, which will run from 4-24 September.

The festival features more than 40 events and activities designed to celebrate and encourage access and inclusion across Newcastle, including dance and art experiences, sports challenges, social and peer networking events and training opportunities, whilst the business community is invited to join a business lunch led by keynote speaker Dylan Alcott AO.

The program was developed in collaboration with Community Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH) and City of Newcastle’s Access Inclusion Advisory Committee and is being delivered with the assistance of a range of community partners including 13 successful grant recipients, who shared in a $20,000 pool of funding from City of Newcastle.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said inclusive employment was a key focus for this year's Count Us In festival.

“City of Newcastle prides itself on being a liveable and welcoming community for all people, increasing social inclusion and community connections with events like Count Us In festival in line with CN's Disability Inclusion Action Plan,” Cr Nelmes said.

"This year, we are delighted to welcome Dylan Alcott AO to lead the Hunter business community in an important conversation as we work together towards solutions for greater employment and workplace inclusion for people with lived disability."

Councillor Margaret Wood, co-chair of City of Newcastle’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee, said Count Us In recognises and celebrates the contributions made by people living with disabilities.

“Count Us In effectively and respectfully brings the whole community into the discussion about inclusion, this builds awareness, breaks down barries and helps create future opportunities especially when it comes to employment," Cr Wood said.

Councillor Dr Elizabeth Adamczyk said CN is proud to deliver the fourth Count Us In festival with its largest all-inclusive event offering over an expanded three-week program.

"Count Us In is for everyone, and I’d encourage all Novocastrians to come and join in the many events and activities on offer over the festival's largest event program offering," Cr Dr Adamczyk.

“This year, we've extended the program over three weeks to allow for Count Us In festival to cross over with some dates on the New Annual 2023 program, to encourage greater community participation."

Councillor Katrina Wark said having an inclusive community is important to all Novocastrians of the Newcastle community.

"The benefits of an inclusive community give Newcastle a wonderful opportunity to showcase a variety of local talent in Count Us in festival," Cr Wark said.

Andrew Vodic Executive Director Community Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH) says the organisation is proud to partner with CN as the official community partner for the festival 2023.

“Once again, CDAH members are excited to be involved in the Count Us In festival. We are looking forward to the 2023 activities, and as official partners with CN, CDAH members have a great opportunity to showcase some of our peer groups and community initiatives,” Mr Vodic said.

Follow City of Newcastle's social media channels for further program announcements or visit City of Newcastle's website.