I’ve had an ongoing battle with my local council – Moreton Bay Regional Council – over their lack of understanding and commitment to access and inclusion for people with disabilities, mobility impairments and other users of wheeled devices such as parents with small children. After three years of battling the same arguments and being met with the same token generalised responses I decided to see where and how I could hold them to whatever commitments were put in writing. And there were none. My council doesn’t have an Access and Inclusion Plan. I emailed customer service asking where it is in case I couldn’t find it on the website and they replied they don’t have one, but they have a community plan which may have what I am looking for.
No. No, I am looking for an access and inclusion plan. I did look at the Community Plan. It’s very generalised and lacks promise or hope for people with disabilities even though we have a population of people with profound disability higher than that of Brisbane, Gold Coast, Logan, Townsville and Cairns Councils. Even looking for keywords showed very little thought for this significant part of the community.
The word Disability was mentioned once. In the entire 52 page document it was mentioned only once.
Accessible – 2
Ageing – 6
Inclusion – 0
Inclusive – 5
Cultural – 25
Corporate – 12
Asset – 11
Environment – 44
Business – 48
Hey, Moreton Bay Council, the 80’s called and they want their ideas back.
With almost 5 % of the population in this council area having a profound disability plus another 17% having some form of disability NOT TO MENTION THE CARERS OF THESE PEOPLE, you’d think they’d get the idea it needs to be on the list of priorities up there with securing Ikea and Costco. I mean even North Lakes has it’s own special plan. The current most up to date statistics show there are 15021 people in North Lakes. There are 20593 people in all of Moreton Bay with a profound disability. North Lakes has a plan and we don’t.
Access and Inclusion isn’t just about disability. It includes the ageing population and carers of children. It means that our community is accessible to everyone in it. This is why we have the Disability Discrimination Act. Speaking of which, Human Rights Australia specifically recommends all governments, organisations and businesses that offer services to a community have an Access and Inclusion Plan. They can even register them on the Human Rights Australia Website.
Just thirteen out of 78 Councils in Queensland have developed an Access and Inclusion Plan of some kind with specific reference to disabilities. Only 11 of them are registered with HRA (some of these were pre – amalgamation). 14%
But this isn’t isolated. It seems when it comes to accessibility and inclusion Victoria is the place to be with 79 out of 79 councils having an Access and Inclusion Plan registered with HRA. 100%! Well done Victoria.
NSW has 58 councils out of 152 with a registered plan or 38%
South Australia has 28 out of 74 council areas on the same page of accessible and inclusive communities or 37%
But us in the land of the eternal summer, we’re way behind with just 14% of our Local Governments wanting to include us and make our communities liveable for us.
Note that it is understandable some Queensland Councils with populations so small and almost none of those living with a disability may not have it as their priority. But when there are councils with populations over 100,000 people, it’s just not good enough. We shouldn’t have to ask to be included.
Of course I’m not expecting much change any time soon since my own local councillor has no issue, just like her predecessor, about parking in disability accessible parking without a permit. I’ve tried walking the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. It was inaccessible. The channels they expect us to go through to voice our concerns have no accountability. We need more than one voice.
I’m running out of energy and running out of time to get these things happening but I am not giving up.
If you’re in an area that is like mine and you want to do more than just be a lone annoying squeaky wheel, do like I plan to do and get a machine full of squeaky wheels together.
That’s right MBRC, you haven’t seen the last of me yet.
As long as these things still exist in my community, you’re going to keep hearing from me.