Equity, Access, and Inclusion efforts over last 10 years

YRC will share three reports with the community via YRC’s website. Picture: UNSPLASH

By Dongyun Kwon

Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) will endorse the success and achievements of its Equity, Access, and Inclusion Strategy (EAIS) 2013-2023 and its Disability Advisory Committee.

YRC will share three reports (Final Report, Summary Report and Disability Advisory Committee Highlights 2023 with the community via YRC’s website.

The Final Report and The Summary Report are to share examples of completed projects and initiatives implemented throughout the lifecycle of the previous EAIS, as well as key reflections.

The Disability Advisory Committee Highlights 2023 is included to align Council Strategy with key Advisory Committee functions and to streamline annual reporting processes for YRC.

Walling Ward councillor Len Cox OAM said EAIS is “such an important strategy”.

“This has been drawn up by some very enlightened and wonderful staff that we’ve got and they’ve been working on this for quite some time,” he said.

“They’ve also had some help from the Disability Advisory Committee which is full of people with understanding about disabilities and very sympathetic towards them.

“The committee includes a couple of people in wheelchairs. The rest of them have either got a disability, or they work for people with a disability or someone in their family.”

Lyster Ward councillor Johanna Skelton said she is proud of the involvement of the different people from YRC.

“It’s important to reflect and to look from strengths-based and asset-based, where we can go from here and try to build on what we’ve done well and the people who’ve embedded it in their groups,” she said.

“The moments that I’m proud of are the things where it’s been other parts of the organisation who have embedded those things without always the involvement of a disability inclusion officer.”

Almost 20 per cent of Yarra Ranges residents have a disability and over 5 per cent need daily support with core activities due to age, chronic illness or profound disability.

About 15 per cent of residents provide unpaid care to a person due to disability, health condition or age.

“There is 20 per cent of our population with disabilities, but as well as that, the help needed by their carers is enormous,” Cr Cox said.

“If you’ve got someone in your family that is severely disabled, the carer does enormous work to look out, mostly unpaid work.

“And they do it just out of love. Those people also need to be remembered. They are very important people.”

The community members will be able to watch the snapshot video of the previous EAIS achievements on YRC’s special media channels and via YRC’s online newsletter.

At the same council meeting, Yarra Ranges resident Ivor Wolstencroft presented a proposal for change, with more projects in Yarra Ranges focusing on connectivity for the disabled.

Mr Wolstencroft’s wife has a mitochondrial disease and said although the big projects that YRC has done are fantastic when they stand alone, they fail to connect with other parts of the community.

“Because I do work at Mount Dandenong, I had the pleasure of seeing the relatively new Chelsea Garden. The disability access is fantastic once you’re in the garden but if you try to get from the front entrance to the garden, it’s just impossible if you are in a wheelchair,” he said.

“You could see the connectivity that was missing between the disabled toilet and the Warburton wharf. You just can’t get there in a wheelchair.

“I think each individual project satisfies planning regulations but the building regulations can be behind what’s actually happening in the community.”

Yarra Ranges councillors promised to connect Mr Wolstencroft to the YRC’s Disability Advisory Committee to talk about the issues that he has found.