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Byron Shire
April 21, 2024

Byron’s disability plan needs your input

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Andy Graeme–Cook and his carer, Tara Jackson.
Photo Jeff Dawson

Have you ever experienced a disability, have a family member or friend with a disability, or have you just noticed someone struggling to manage in the community?

Whether you have a permanent or temporary disability, you will have experienced the challenges that come with not being fully able in the broader community and the impact that this can have; from not being able to access shops, or playgrounds, to engaging and accessing services.

Currently, Byron Shire Council are seeking feedback on what makes a community inclusive and ‘All Welcome’ says local Andy Graeme–Cook, who is a member of Council’s Disability Access Committee Working Group.

‘We have the survey for the Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) that we want as many people with as many opinions as possible to respond to,’ Andy told The Echo.

Council’s Project Officer Collaboration Lead, Dr Claire Baker said, ‘We urge everyone living with disability, whether it’s visible or invisible, or a mental health condition, to get online and fill out our survey by November 19,’

Depending on the figures you use, Andy says 27 per cent of the population, or one in five people have a disability, and that including disability in the future and current planning for the region needs to be more than a box ticking exercise.

He says that there are positive moves being made by Byron Shire Council around inclusion.

‘In Brunswick, the Electric Mermaid barber, he’s gone and purchased a ramp to ensure people are included and he lends it to other businesses,’ said Andy.

‘Federal Village sought out our advice on planning their urban spaces for disability’. 

‘This is really important as around 20 per cent of our tourists have a disability.’

Sharing lived experience and having respectful conversations is vital says Andy’s partner Cath. 

‘People don’t understand what they are doing wrong in the development and planning process without these conversations.

‘For example, the new Railway Park playground received excellence awards – yet as a child in a wheelchair you can’t enter it’.

‘We need as many people with ideas and input from all levels and ages of disability to respond to the DIAP survey,’ says Andy.

‘This can include parents, aged care workers, care givers and people with both visible and invisible disability.’

Dr Baker said that ‘Our theme for this new DISP is “All Welcome” because when something is accessible, everyone can use it, and when something is inclusive, everyone can take part.

‘We want to know what things in the Shire are hard to do and what Council can do to help,’ she said.  

Easy read version

The Your Say Byron Shire survey is available at www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/all-welcome.

The survey is also available in an easy read version that is accessible to a wider audience, such as people with intellectual disability, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people of all ages with low levels of literacy.

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