“I think for me what’s at top of mind is hearing it’s about showing up, the responsibility doesn’t just fall with employers or community and doesn’t fall just with people with disabilities. Both sides have to come to the table and meet and collaborate. For me, my life has been a collaboration, my personal life has been a collaboration, my career, everything, collaboration is key,” Stephanie Dower.

And show up they did!

More than 120 attendees descended on the Inclusion Ready Summit on Tuesday 18 June 2019. It was an engaging day of presentations.

If you couldn’t attend, don’t worry! We have pulled out some ideas and comments from the panel sessions. This is a long blog post but worth the read to the bottom.

We are also working on our Day Summit Podcast series and will roll out the sessions, along with bonus episodes to really unpack those conversations.

In the meantime, bring your inclusion mindset to the ideas, comments and opportunities below.

These photos show Uncle Des Sandy delivering the Welcome to Country, the Hon. Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities and Minister for Disability Services and Seniors officially opened the event and the keynote presentation by Professor Bruce BonyhadyAM held the attention of the room.

The first session after morning tea was led by Colleen Papadopoulos, a conversation around: Building an Inclusive Future: A Real-Life Case Study.

“What’s the number one rule for working in production?” John Valente asks as he turns to the young woman on his left.

“Signal fly!” Allycia Staples replies without hesitation.

Allycia said yes when asked by Jam Factory Production Manager John Valente if she would like to do an internship.

Fresh from a yearlong project funded by an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC grant) to build her capcity, Allycia was ready to take her passion for entertainment and apply it to production. Now she says that she loves her work so much, she wants to do this every day of her life.

John shared during this discussion how he took the way she learns and applied it to her training, applying her understanding of the makeup of her favourite band and using that to guide her through their checklist.“It’s about using your abilities and finding a pathway through,” John told the room.

The proof is in the pudding. Now Allycia is delivering key events and clients are asking specifically for her for their projects.

A video produced by CSIA a year ago featuring Allycia’s story is being shown to schools and John revealed that this too is leading to the schools asking specifically for Allycia to deliver the production on their plays and other events.

Veronica may be Allycia’s Mum but as the Project Manager to deliver the Mainstream and Me project.

“The success is all about finding a way to allow people to learn and flourish,” Veronica said.

And the ILC grant provided an opportunity to take the hard work Veronica had been doing, raising awareness about inclusion and employing people with disabilities.

“…That’s where the beauty of the ILC came into its own. Because in that position and with those resources, that very short 12-month period, we were able to harness some of those long-term community relationships and opportunities. And we actually had some capacity to go and have conversations and do the work and put some structures in place. So, the ILC in many respects, is something that is going to give all of us capacity to build on some of those long held dreams and opportunities…”

The next panel – Leadership and Inclusion: What can we do to lead the charge? had the room looking at their own inclusion mindset and how Councils are creating opportunities for connections.

“Every person has something important to contribute. And I think that when we can break down barriers and create more inclusion, then we’re going to get a better society and it makes a lot of economic sense as well,” said Local City Council Director of Community Services Katie Barton-Harvey.

She was joined on the panel by Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour and Co-Chairs David Conway and Cody Skinner.

They provided practical examples of activities across their regions that created interactions and connections between their communities and people with disabilities. This included inviting the community to try wheelchair basketball (Cr Seymour revealed that his wife is now an avid fan after trying it) and making sure the accessible mat would always be available for users each Friday.

Both panel speakers focussed on the leadership and understanding what makes accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities.

When it came to leading inclusion and building the mindset, Cr Seymour said “The mentality of just ticking the box or will this serve its purpose.”

Katie added to this by saying that inclusion is about “being able to receive feedback about the way you do inclusion, learn from it and make improvements.”

Cr Seymour wrapped it up when he said: “You know it requires constant commitment from local governments to ensure they’re engaging with people with disabilities otherwise it gets lost.”

After lunch was the Inclusion Makes Good Business and it’s happening everyday panel.

Masterfully led by Nigel Webb this panel shared their collective expertise around engaging with, recruiting and working with people with disabilities. Over the hour, they shared real stories of what worked and key ideas that were scribbled on paper or typed into phones by the audience.

This will be a podcast episode you may like to listen to twice.

This panel was particularly important because as Remarkable Founder Pete Horsley said:

“There are 20 per cent of our population in Australia that actually have a disability, then it’s likely that 20 per cent of our customers are actually going to have a disability as well. And so having an understanding of the customer that we’re actually trying to meet it is really important thing for any retailer, service provider, any business.” 

The day was wrapped up by the reflections panel – we look forward to sharing more from that session with you through the podcast.