In my blog last month, I wrote about disability inclusion and the human right for people with disabilities to live an ordinary life. 4.3m Australians live with some form of disability, and 2.5m of them are under 65. You don’t have to be a great mathematician to work out that that’s a lot more than the 460,000 people with disabilities who will be supported by an NDIS plan. And that’s why inclusion is so important.

The NDIA’s information, linkages and capacity building (ILC) grant program provides funds for projects to improve inclusion of people with a disability. Pretty much any type of organisation can apply for a grant, and you don’t need to be a registered NDIS provider, or even a disability services provider.

So what do inclusion projects actually do?

Over the last month we’ve been running a series of webinars as the first part of our ILC Ready program to help organisations understand ILC funding, and to develop their project ideas and project proposals. As part of these webinars we’ve spoken to a range of organisations who have received an ILC grant to understand more about their inclusion projects. In this month’s blog, we’re looking at different ways of improving inclusion, through some examples of inclusion projects in practice.

Overcome barriers to accessing services

When Anglicare SA noticed that they had a much lower uptake of their services from people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, they decided to do some research into the issue with Flinders University. The research found that stigma was the biggest barrier to people from CALD communities accessing disability services. Some of our views on disability are heavily influenced by culture and experience, so Anglicare SA applied for an ILC grant to develop a video to tackle stigma around disability. The video is called “In our own words” and features people from different cultural backgrounds talking about their experience of living with disability, or caring for a family member with disability. Anglicare SA is sharing the video with communities and other service providers to improve understanding of the needs of culturally diverse communities.

Similarly, City of Playford, in Adelaide’s north, also noticed that people from CALD communities were not accessing services. They took a slightly different approach to research, working alongside residents through the process of accessing services, and observing the barriers that they were facing. These included cultural, language and system barriers. They tested out these assumptions, by reaching out to the other local service providers to find out if they’d noticed the same things. They had. Together, they realised that all these pain points had something in common: they were happening at the frontline, across many different service systems. City of Playford, City of Salisbury, and the Department of Human Services decided to work together, by applying for an ILC grant to create a CALD toolkit for frontline staff working across different social services. Their aim was to empower the first person in the frontline to work around cultural, language and system barriers, so the person seeking help would get the support they needed the first time.

Engage people with disabilities in communities and organisations

HCO were already running Neighbourhood Links group in Mount Barker, based on a UK program called the Keyring model. Neighbourhood Links brings together a group of up to eight people with intellectual disability, who are living independently or intending to move out of home, with a facilitator who also lives in the area. All participants live within close distance of each other, creating a linked-up support network. Each month, one of the Neighbourhood Links participants hosts a meeting to catch up and talk about issues that are important to independent living, or different topics of interest, such as the Federal Election. For the Mount Barker group, this created an opportunity to develop knowledge about our electoral and government system and how to vote. The facilitator builds a relationship with each of the participants, and helps them to come up with their own solutions to daily living problems both independently, and as part of meetings. They provide on-call and drop in support to participants and attend the monthly meeting.

The evaluation of the existing HCO program showed that participants were more engaged in their local community and less socially isolated. HCO was awarded ILC funding to expand the model from the Mount Barker group to five further groups across the Adelaide Hills and surrounding area.

Inclusive Sport SA have a good understanding of the barriers to inclusion of people of all abilities in mainstream sports and recreation.  One of the main challenges happens again, at the frontline. When people in community sporting clubs are unsure about how to include people with different abilities, and are concerned about doing it ‘right’, the result can be that nothing is done, and the person with disability ends up leaving the club.

Inclusive Sport SA’s ILC project addresses inclusion from three perspectives.

1. For the community: Inclusive Sport SA are surveying club members, parents and participants of mainstream sports clubs to benchmark the current attitudes in sport. In addition, their Well Played campaign uses the message “Play Together Play Well” with social media content, such as their Humans of Sports in SA stories, to help people see the benefits of including people of all abilities in sport.

2. For people living with disability: there is a self-driven Participant Advisory Group of six local and high performance athletes and coaches with lived experience of disability, as well as resources developed by people with disability, for people with disability. The advisory group’s aim is to help the sector implement initiatives that take the views of people with disability into account.

3. Inclusive Sport SA are working with people with disability to make short videos on topics like: how to deal with an umpire’s decision, how to meet people at your club, and what to expect as a player.

For the sport and recreation sector: Inclusive Sport SA met with key state sport administrators about inclusion of people with disability in club sport. They found opportunities to share knowledge, provide training to the sector, and bring together the many great resources already available to improve inclusion in sport.

They are building an online hub where major sporting bodies, community clubs, service providers, prospective participants and their families can connect with each other, and share supports, events, competitions and strategies that work.

Inclusive employment

SACID used its ILC grant to establish SA Inclusion Point, an information service. SA Inclusion Point employs people with intellectual disability as inclusion workers to

  • Speak with groups about how to include people with disability
  • Help make easy read information
  • Set up groups for people with intellectual disability so they can have their voice heard
  • Help at workshops and events

Making this inclusion meaningful included ensuring recruitment and employment processes are accessible to people with disability, such as presenting position descriptions in an easy-read format; and paying award rates for the work. The inclusion workers have developed workshops focussed on skills development and the right to safety (which was their own suggestion).  SACID have also received an additional ILC grant that will see people with intellectual disability have a greater voice within the organisation and wider community through the establishment of a reference group that will advise the Board, and peer action groups focused on creating more inclusive communities.

Tennis player and TV presenter Dylan Alcott has launched Remove the Barrier, a campaign to tackle the unconscious bias that makes it difficult for people with disabilities to secure employment. Currently only 54% of the one in five Australians living with disability are employed, which is twice the general unemployment rate. The campaign includes tips on actions you can take to remove the barriers to employment, including wording of job advertisements and flexibility in your recruitment process. Whilst Alcott’s campaign is not ILC funded, it’s a great example of work to improve inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace, and has the support of big name brands like Nike, ANZ and Medibank.

Creating inclusive environments

Given the number of Australians living with disability, it makes commercial sense for businesses to include them as customers. Autism SA’s Autism Friendly Charter is a website for businesses and organisations to access online training, and sign up as an autism friendly business. Autism SA has been funded through ILC grants to make the charter national, and to design an app mapping safe, autism friendly spaces, activities, businesses and services. Similarly, Beyond Bank are also designing new branches to be more inclusive for people with disability, as you can see in this video about engaging people with disability in the design of a new Canberra branch.

Feeling inspired?

You can learn more about the ILC projects discussed above by watching our webinar recordings here.

If you have any questions on the program, please just drop us an email at [email protected].