Local government is taking a proactive role in planning for accessible cities, with councils in Sydney and Brisbane launching blueprints to make their neighbourhoods more accessible for the elderly and people with disability.
Logan City Council in Brisbane earlier this month officially launched its four year Access and Inclusion Plan containing over 80 actions resulting from a consultation process involving more than 36,000 community members.
The Logan Local Government Area has the eighth largest population in Australia, with over 319,000 residents. The population is expected to increase to around 473,000 by 2031.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows more than 17,000 people in Logan need day-to-day help due to disability and around 26,000 people in Logan provide unpaid care for someone with disability.
Plan includes 84 accessibility initiatives
The action plan guides authorities through a range of initiatives including equipping swimming pools with water-safe wheelchairs, developing a checklist for accessibility requirements for council-run events and and developing an accessible design guideline for the construction of new public facilities.
Logan City Council acting CEO Silvio Trinca says council is committed to designing and creating spaces that promote equality and dignity through access and inclusion.
“We are providing ways to remove barriers that impact upon the day-to-day lives of people with disability,” Mr Trinca said. “We want to support people to live a good life in the Logan community.”
Logan City Council community services director Katie Barton-Harvey said the Access and Inclusion Plan will guide practices across the organisation and in the community.
“We want to provide opportunities for all and give people of all abilities the chance to fulfil their potential,” she said.
City of Sydney revamps disability policies
Meanwhile, City of Sydney council this month also unveiled a draft inclusive and accessible public domain policy as part of of its City for All: Inclusion (Disability) Action Plan 2017–2021.
Although specifically aimed at addressing inequalities faced by people with disabilities, the strategies will also improve access for elderly people and families.
The policy contains accessibility standards for kerb ramps, accessible public toilets, picnic settings, playgrounds and public parks, as well as guidelines for community gardens, footpath gardens and activities such as markets, to ensure they are inclusive and accessible.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore says it is vital that community facilities, footpaths and parks can be used by everyone.
“Creating a welcoming, inclusive city for everyone is one of our top priorities,” she said. “I hope that this policy will further reduce the physical and social barriers for people living with disability to enjoy our city.”
The draft policy, which is open for community feedback until June 28, was developed in collaboration with the City’s Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel.
Mark Tonga, chair of the panel, says the policy creates opportunities for everybody in the community to improve their lives by exploring the city.
“Better access to the city will help not just people in wheelchairs but the elderly, people pushing prams and people with temporary disabilities,” he said.
Cr Moore says the City is designing a tailored program of engagement to make sure it hears from people living with disability, the wider community and business about the draft policy. This work will help inform similar policies across metropolitan Sydney, she says.