South West Access and Inclusion Alliance

City of Busselton councillor Ross Paine with 30 Foot Drop founder Ben Aldridge at a 2 Wise Monkeys workshop in Busselton, which aims to break down bias around people with disabilities. Image supplied.
City of Busselton councillor Ross Paine with 30 Foot Drop founder Ben Aldridge at a 2 Wise Monkeys workshop in Busselton, which aims to break down bias around people with disabilities. Image supplied.

Disability advocate Ben Aldridge has called on local governments in the region to collaborate on making the South West more accessible and inclusive for everyone.

Mr Aldridge addressed the City of Busselton council last week to kick start calls for a South West Access and Inclusion Alliance which would see representatives from local governments and the community work together to achieve common goals.

Mr Aldridge said with an aging population, and one in five people experiencing an impairment, the South West faced major challenges to ensure people visited, lived in and moved to the region.

He said the challenge was exacerbated by reduced funding, a lack of geographic research and inconsistent standards across the South West.

"The short term goal would be to foster dialog between local governments on access and inclusion to share knowledge, stop reinventing the wheel and to form a network with common goals."

City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley supported the idea and invited Mr Aldridge to attend a South West Local Government Authority Zone meeting.

Mr Henley said the city were required to have access and inclusion plans and had a committee which engaged in public consultation to steer planning and infrastructure developments.

"We have had good practical measures come out of the committee, one of which was the fencing of the playground at Rotary Park, which was a request from the South West Autism Network," he said.

In Bunbury, councillor Brendan Kelly said they had a program called the Most Accessible Regional City in Australia, which aimed to make Bunbury MARCIA by 2020.

"We have pursued this with a vengeance and we have a co-design committee who have experience in people with disabilities to help us design things in Bunbury so we do not design people out," he said.

Busselton councillor Coralie Tarbotton sits on the city's Disability Access and Inclusion Committee which includes members of the community who experience challenges.

"I am sure the alliance would be very much supported, one of our priorities is to make sure we have good access and inclusion for all of our community no matter what their limitations or restrictions are."

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This story Call for councils to unite on issue first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.