Hepburn Shire Council has a new Disability Action Plan that will guide its actions in removing barriers and making adjustments to help provide an equitable experience for people living with disability.

Council adopted the plan at the Council Meeting this week. The plan was developed in partnership with the Council’s Disability Advisory Committee to identify the most meaningful and beneficial priority actions.

“This plan has been developed with community members who have lived experience of disability. They have been incredibly generous and helpful in guiding the action plan that will drive meaningful change in our community,” said Mayor, Cr Brian Hood. “Thank you to committee members for your input and to those who took the time to review the draft plan and provide feedback.”

The action plan includes a range of priorities, from raising community awareness and encouraging opportunities for employment and inclusion, through to advocating to other levels of government for improved health, housing and transport services.

Deputy Mayor Lesley Hewitt is Chair of Council’s Disability Advisory Committee. She said disability can be different for everyone.

“Disability can mean any kind of impairment, whether existing at birth or acquired through illness, accident, or the ageing process. It ranges from cognitive impairment and physical, sensory, intellectual, and psycho-social disability,” said Cr Hewitt.

“Individuals may encounter physical barriers, digital barriers and barriers of attitudes and communication that impact on their ability to equitably participate in society. Our focus in this plan is on removing barriers and implementing changes that provide an equitable experience for people with disability,” she said.

The plan covers a range of priorities including inclusive communities; health, housing and wellbeing; fairness and safety; and opportunity and pride.

“A big shift with this plan is the focus on ‘invisible disabilities’ including neurological, cognitive and sensory disabilities,” said Cr Hewitt.

The plan has been created in the context of a raft of changes in recent years, including the review of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, development of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031 and Inclusive Victoria: State disability plan 2022-2026, along with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The action plan is available on Council’s website www.hepburn.vic.gov.au.

Facts on disability:

  • 17% of Victorians live with disability
  • Only 10% of the 1.1 million Victorians with disability are eligible for a NDIS plan.
  • 77% of people with disability have a physical disability.
  • 32% of people with disability sometimes or always need support with daily self-care, mobility or communication activities.
  • 24% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a disability
  • 39% of LGBTIQA+ people aged 14 to 21 identify as having disability or long-term health condition.
  • 7.7% of children under 15 have disability.

Source: Inclusive Victoria: State Disability Plan 2021-2026.