Central Coast Council celebrated International Day of People with Disability on 3 December, and is raising local awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by people with a disability, to help create a more accessible and inclusive region.
Council recently collaborated with local pottery school Centered Ceramics, that offered people with disabilities the opportunity to learn pottery and ceramics in a mainstream commercial studio, and then exhibit their work in a public gallery.
The local business learned how to make their premises and programs more accessible to attract customers with different access needs. Some of these adjustments included portable ramps and a modified tabletop pottery wheel.
A video has been developed so our community can hear from the local business owner and some of the participants of the program about their experience. Council’s access and inclusion guide for businesses is also available online.
Council Disability and Inclusion Officer, Jodie Frost-Foster said there are many ways that barriers can be removed, which make a huge difference in the lives of people with disability.
“Council has been working closely with people with disability, the sector and advocacy groups to improve accessibility and create an inclusive Central Coast community, where everyone can participate,” Ms Frost-Foster said.
“Our Disability and Inclusion Acton Plan (DIAP) – which was guided by our community with input from our Access and Inclusion Reference Group – has set actions so people with disabilities can better access our services, facilities and open spaces.
“Staff continue to deliver actions from our DIAP with positive outcomes achieved for both locals and visitors to our region.”
Some progress highlights from Council’s Disability and Inclusion Acton Plan:
View full highlight report for Council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025
- Accessibility infrastructure improvements to the car park and entrance at Niagara Park Stadium, accessibility features within the upgrade of the Central Coast Visitor Information Centre including an accessible adult change facility, upgrade of six bus stops to improve accessibility, construction of 3.1 kilometres of shared paths and footpaths, which included a new segment of the Tuggerawong foreshore shared pathway. Multiple projects were also delivered which improved physical access in four town centres, including sidewalk upgrades and widening within Wyong and Budgewoi, clearing of shrubbery and other items on pathways throughout The Entrance, Gosford, Wyong and Budgewoi to remove obstructions for users of mobility equipment.
- New and upgraded playspaces were constructed that incorporate accessible play features, including Ross Park (Avoca Beach) and Tunkuwallin Oval (Gwandalan), plus an additional 14 playspaces were renewed across the region in 2023 with improved accessibility.
- An Accessible Beaches guide was developed that profiles the accessible features of 10 Central Coast beaches to help people with disabilities and mobility challenges plan for a trip to the beach. Each Summer beach season, Council installs beach matting at several beaches and provides free beach wheelchair hire to enable access to the shoreline.
- An Accessible Nature guide was also developed, with contains factual information such as parking, amenities and other features that help people living with a disability or restricted mobility to plan a day out in nature on the Central Coast.
- Inclusive sport and active recreation programs in partnership with local service providers continue across the Coast to create more opportunities for participation. Some examples include the ‘Activate Inclusion Sports Day’ and Council leisure centre supported events and programs for people with a disability (wheelchair basketball, accessible and inclusive soccer, special Olympics basketball and swimming programs).
- An Invisible Disability awareness campaign was run to challenge community perceptions and to help people understand that use of accessible public toilets and car spaces are not only for people with visible disabilities.
- There is improved accessibility at Council events. Some examples include an Auslan interpreter at the Australia Day Awards ceremony, the library live children’s online story time, and ‘Are You Pulling My Leg?’ stand-up comedy at Laycock St Theatre.
- Two original Virtual Reality (VR) experiences were hosted to over 250 participants to educate the community about physical and sensory disabilities.
- Council systems and processes were improved to increase accessibility. Some of these included the delivery of staff training on the development of accessible documents and information for the community, speech to text technology made available for frontline staff in Council’s Customer Service Centres to communicate with people from the Deaf community, all Council websites compliant with the most current Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) version, delivery of Auslan interpreted emergency preparedness community sessions, and updates to Council’s ‘knowledge database’ to improve accuracy and timelessness of responses to customer enquiries relating to planned accessibility upgrades.
Council Administrator, Rik Hart said that everyone deserves to feel welcome and able to participate in day-to-day community life, and we all have a part to play in creating a more inclusive and accessible region.
“I’m pleased with our staff’s ongoing implementation of Council’s Disability and Inclusion Acton Plan, and the continued collaborative work with our local community and disability sector,” Mr Hart said.
“This year, around the celebration of International Day of People with Disability, I encourage our community to further look at ways to improve inclusion and access – whether that’s through their business, workplace, or with community activities.”
To read Council’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2021-2025 and for more information on how Council is helping to improve accessibility and inclusion for those with a disability, search ‘accessibility and inclusion’ at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au