New plan sets challenge for Newcastle to be an inclusive and accessible city

23 Feb 2022

City of Newcastle has adopted a bold plan to achieve the community’s vision expressed in the Newcastle 2040 plan, of an inclusive and accessible city for all.

The Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2022-2026 (DIAP) was unanimously adopted by the elected Council at Tuesday's Council Meeting.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said addressing inclusion requires a multi-faceted approach, but one of the most powerful places to start is by increasing awareness and understanding around disability.

"The DIAP acts as a roadmap to guide City of Newcastle’s actions and establish strategies to ensure we create an inclusive community for all people who live, visit and work in Newcastle," Cr Nelmes said.

"All people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and have equal access to social, recreational, educational, economic and employment opportunities.

"Community attitudes and behaviours can have a significant impact on the lives of people with a disability – it is up to all of us to ensure that impact is a positive one."

Actions and strategies presented in the DIAP 2022-2026 are categorised within four focus areas - developing positive community attitudes and behaviours; creating liveable communities; supporting access to meaningful employment and improving access to mainstream services through better systems and processes.

Among the 35 key actions to be carried out under the DIAP is a commitment to leading by example with public programming.

"We're already working towards this through our cultural facilities, where we deliver public programming that is not only accessible and inclusive but also reflects the diversity of disabilities in our community," Cr Nelmes said.

"Examples of this include the low sensory sessions at Newcastle Museum developed in consultation with Autism Awareness Australia, and last year's Sea, Space & Beyond exhibition at the Museum in partnership with Vision Australia, which featured artworks created by the blind, low vision and sighted communities.

"The month-long Count Us In program was also established as an action of the previous DIAP, and included disability awareness training, cultural and arts events, inclusive sports and games, and a range of other events to highlight inclusion. We are currently finalising a grants program for the festival, which will help empower the community to deliver this year's event.

"By keeping disability front of mind and on people's agenda, we can challenge the community dialogue to enhance positive attitudes and behaviours towards disability."

City of Newcastle was the first Council in New South Wales to adopt a DIAP under the current legislation.