CSIA is working closely with people with disability and their families to inform place-based strategies for social and economic inclusion in Mount Isa, the Atherton Tablelands and the Fraser Coast region.

Through partnerships with local organisations who understand their community, CSIA Regional Inclusion Officers have been on the ground delivering the work.

In particular, our officers are using their networks to bring together key stakeholders and organisations interested in developing projects for Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC). This has exciting opportunities for people living with disabilities and their communities to connect and engage in ways they haven’t been able to previously.

The work in Atherton has been led by CSIA Regional Inclusion Officer Peta O’Neill who was hosted by and partnered with Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) to collaborate towards social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities.

Here we talk with Peta about what it took and the successful outcomes – Atherton will see TRC and five organisations submitting ILC grant applications.

Inclusion Ready in the Atherton Tablelands

Having recognised Tablelands Regional Council (TRC)’s commitment to inclusion through their corporate planning, CSIA approached TRC to partner in hosting Regional Inclusion Officer Peta O’Neill.

TRC embraced the idea.

Peta set to work, her first job was to develop targeted strategies to raise awareness of the benefits of social and economic inclusion and to build on TRC’s inclusive work to date.

Peta said her strategy included developing an evidence base for a consistent foundation of user-led projects in the region; raising awareness of ILC grants; and building capability within organisations to ensure an enduring legacy.

“This unique partnering arrangement and project supports the great work Council has been doing to lead the way and strive for excellence in embedding inclusion as core business,” said Peta.  

Inclusion as Core Business

For a community to be socially and economically inclusive for people with disabilities they need to work together. The next collaboration Peta engaged did exactly that.

Working with TRC’s leadership and the Inclusive Foundation (IF), Peta was able to facilitate immersive sessions breaking down data and interrogating narratives around what inclusion means.

This was delivered to all levels of Council, engaging with community leaders and people with lived experience.

“Building on the awareness of social and economic inclusion with our people in this region will ensure that inclusion continues to be the first consideration in every policy, event and decision,” explained Peta.

This group has delivered on inclusion since these sessions that include:

  • Council has sought advice from the Disability Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee on further street and infrastructure modifications to meet the needs of the community – creating more inclusive spaces
  • Planning is underway to change the Yungaburra Triathlon for 2020 to all abilities – creating inclusion in sporting activities
  • The Victory in the Pacific event held in August was developed with sound loops, all abilities parking and mobile signage – creating inclusion in community events.

With so much achieved in a short timeframe, we are looking forward to seeing the long-term outcomes of this work.

Collaborating in the ILC funding environment

Leveraging off her existing relationships and credibility in the region, Peta met with 35 organisations over the term of the project to encourage ILC funding applications. Her work extended beyond the disability sector to include organisations that wouldn’t usually consider inclusive projects for ILC as an option. Inclusion is everybody’s business.

The success of Peta’s networking was in facilitating a coordinated approach across the region. In what may otherwise be a competitive environment, organisations came together to share their project ideas and avoid duplication.

Peta speaks of how cooperative the organisations were during this process creating a safe space where they felt confident to share information and challenge each other’s ideas.

“I have been listening to people discuss social and economic inclusion in a progressive way, with service providers sharing their ideas for change instead of competing with each other,” said Peta.

In a region that has not had a successful ILC application to date, at least five organisations are submitting applications in the current round with more projects in development for subsequent rounds.

We’re excited to see the outcomes of these ILC grant applications and the long-term benefits of the project in the region.