Planning for an inclusive future

INCLUSIVE: Rachel Barlow (back row, third from the left) supported the campaign to get beach wheelchairs for the Whyalla Foreshore.
INCLUSIVE: Rachel Barlow (back row, third from the left) supported the campaign to get beach wheelchairs for the Whyalla Foreshore.

The Whyalla City Council has turned to the community for input on how to make the steel city more inclusive for people living with a disability.

This input will help inform the Whyalla's inaugural Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP), which will assist Council in ensuring those who are disabled can participate in mainstream services and programs.

The plan will also ensure Council is aligned with the Disability Inclusion Act 2018, the Disability Inclusion Regulations 2019 (SA) and the State Disability Inclusion Plan.

Acting Council CEO Kristen Clark said Whyalla had been 'leading the way' in providing facilities for those living with a disability.

"The foreshore playground, new ramp and the disability-friendly Liberty swing, as well as multi-access toilet block in the Ada Ryan Gardens and the beach mats for wheelchairs are just some of the recent Council works that have improved disability services," he said.

"We are looking forward to receiving feedback to assist in identify current gaps and suggestions for Council to ensure it is placing a Disability and Inclusive' friendly lens on all of its operations."

A mother of a child with a disability, Rachel Barlow has been a long-time advocate for better disability access in Whyalla. Her son, Jacob, was born with Down Syndrome, a challenging disorder that is associated with intellectual disability.

Ms Barlow worked with a number of community organisations to help bring wheelchairs to the Whyalla Foreshore to make the beach more accessible for those with disabilities.

In terms of what council could do to improve access in the town, Ms Barlow said there were a lot of 'little things' that could be fixed to make life less challenging for the disabled.

"There's still a lot of footpaths that are still substandard and not safe for wheelchairs," she said.

"Signage could also be improved, installing more signs that are in easy-to-read English would be a huge benefit to people with reading or sight issues."

However Ms Barlow said there was evidence of council focusing on being inclusive with the new loop jetty, which includes a feature that allows those in a wheelchair to fish from the jetty.

"Some of the handrails around the outside of the jetty slide backwards so someone in a wheelchair can push it up to the first rail and put a fishing rod through the hole," she said.

"They're able to fish without worrying about the top rail."

Ms Barlow also noted that having a council representative with a disability in Cr Zia Westerman was important as it provided a key voice for the disabled in that sphere.

Electronic copies of the DAIP survey can be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/67H6B3P or hard copies can be sourced at the Council Office, Whyalla Public Library or Visitors Information Centre.

To assist those in the community who may have difficulty in completing the survey, or require it in any other format, Council's Community Services Team is here to help you, please call 8640 3444 for assistance.

The survey is open from 25 June to 17 July 2020.