I have recently been discussing with senior staff a proposal to introduce a Disability Liasion Group at the City of Fremantle.
The City of Fremantle currently has a Youth Network and a Reconciliation Reference Group to advise on specific topics, and it makes sense to also have a reference group advising and liaising with the City regarding the needs of people with a disability in our City.
The Disability Liaison Group would be made up of people with a disability, or perhaps disability advocates, who would advise the Council and City administration on issues affecting them. It would be a two-way flow of information where the City could get feedback on service or infrastructure plans and changes, and the Group could raise issues of concern or interest they would like the City to follow up.
The Group would be created through a decision of Council and participants would be selected though an application process, based on merit and relevant personal and professional experience.
The idea came up when I was discussing parking with my friend Bill, who I’ve known since my days as the WA manager of The Big Issue. I realised that there were no accord parking bays close to the Cappuccino Strip and when talking to Bill about potential locations, his insights were really useful and not necessarily things I had thought of, when choosing a location for an Acrod bay.
For example, he said he likes to use the new Cappuccino Car Park because it is well lit and has CCTV, so he feels safe and feels his car is safe.
The City currently has an “Access and Inclusion Plan”, but that doesn’t necessarily capture everything, or the day to day issues that affect people.
In my work as a professional development trainer, I often have participants who have a disability. One lady with a vision impairment told me she advises Transperth on accessibility issues. It made me think the City of Fremantle needs a group of experts with lived experience to help us make our city more accessible for people with a disability. This may include people with an intellectual disability as well as people with physical disabilities.
If we make our city accessible for people with special needs, then it will make it better for everyone, including the elderly and people with young children. So everyone wins!
The staff have responded favourably and are keen to establish a Disability Liaison Group.