Today I participated in Good Access = Good Business, a combined Maroondah City Council and Department of Human Services initiative under the Bar None program, a local leadership recognition project.
Bar None aimed to celebrate community inclusion and to recognise local examples of inclusion for people with disabilities. Today’s forum provided an opportunity to discuss accessibility in the context of the business community.
As part of the proceedings I participated in a panel discussing access and inclusion within Maroondah. A number of topics were discussed, including the lack of disability compliance at Ringwood Station and the difficulty crossing roads such as Maroondah Highway due to the lengthy delays and lack of adequate crossing time.
Businesses such as Invicta Bus Company are demonstrating a comprehensive commitment to inclusion through significantly exceeding the State Government requirements for low-floor buses and through providing telephone assistance for people that require accessible bus services.
At a council level it is imperative that we work with Eastland and its parent company, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) to ensure that the proposed expansion of Eastland is accessible to the entire Maroondah community. Likewise new developments also need to be accessible and as such I have been requiring footpath construction as a condition for proposals within the Ringwood Transit City area. Maroondah Council is currently developing a principal pedestrian network, which will identify the areas that require footpaths thus improving the accessibility of our municipality.
In conjunction with Scoot Wheel N Move, Maroondah has encouraged businesses to participate in the Recharge Program, where shops are encouraged to provide power facilities for people with motorised scooters or wheelchairs. The cost to businesses is a mere 10 or 20 cents an hour but it ensures that people with motorised mobility aids are able to travel safely to and from the shops.
All levels of government need to work in cooperation to ensure a more inclusive and accessible society. While Maroondah is undertaking a number of strategic and practical initiatives to improve access, such as our new footpath construction policy and the Recharge Program, a commitment is also required from the State Government particularly in regard to our infrastructure.
Ringwood Station currently fails disability compliance standards (DDA Act 1992) and as such its redevelopment is a necessity to ensure the success of an inclusive and vibrant future for Ringwood. Accompanied with the Station redevelopment, the State Government must also compel VicRoads to provide sufficient time for pedestrians to cross Maroondah Highway and minimise the lengthy delays that pedestrians must endure while they wait to cross the Highway. Many other pedestrian crossings also need improving and the State Government must deliver these accessibility improvements so that Maroondah can become an inclusive and accessible municipality.
I also had the privilege of opening Good Access = Good Business and a copy of my opening speech is available:
In the spirit of Reconciliation, we acknowledge that we are meeting on land for which the Wurundjeri people have been custodians for many centuries, and on land which the Indigenous Australians have performed age old ceremonies.
We, Maroondah City Council, accept, respect and have shared with the Wurundjeri people in their customs of welcome.
The Wurundjeri people support the coming together of all people, respecting their individuality to focus on a unified and cohesive nation.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the City of Maroondahâ€™s Bar None event.
To celebrate and highlight the Bar None initiative, Maroondahâ€™s Scoot, Wheel â€˜nâ€™ Move group has been involved in the development of todayâ€™s event. Titled Good Access Is Good Business, this event aims to celebrate and recognise the contribution of individuals and organisations in Maroondah in relation to making the economic environment more inclusive of people with a disability.
The Scoot, Wheel n Move group came together in 2005 as a result of Maroondahâ€™s Metro Access program that identified access barriers for people with motorised scooters and wheelchairs. Three projects were identified:
- the Eastland project – where the group has been discussing accessibility improvements within Eastland;
- an Accessibility Expo (held at Federation Estate Dec 2006);
- and an information booklet produced for people using electric wheel chairs and motorised scooters and potential future users.
In addition, the group have worked on the Maroondah Recharge scheme aimed at encouraging local businesses to provide power points so users of motorised scooters and electric wheel chairs can recharge their batteries. Recharge stickers are visible on participating shop fronts so the community can easily identify local businesses affiliated with the scheme.
It is imperative that we create an inclusive and accessible municipality to ensure that all people are able to participate in our community. Businesses within Maroondah form part of that community and as such they should be encouraged to provide inclusive access. Many of the requirements for an accessible business such as friendly service, uncluttered aisles and easy access make common business sense.
Iâ€™d like to congratulate the Scoot, Wheel n Move group on their efforts in organising today in collaboration with Trish Matthes from Councilâ€™s Community Planning & Development Unit and staff from the Department of Human Services and the Department of Planning & Community Development.
I am sure we are bound to find today’s event to be both fun and informative. I would like to welcome you to Good Access = Good Business.