Shire scores accessibility award for second year

Members of the Augusta Margaret River Shire's Community Access and Inclusion Reference Group.
Members of the Augusta Margaret River Shire's Community Access and Inclusion Reference Group.

For the second year running the Shire of Augusta Margaret River has been awarded the Most Accessible Community in WA, under the Regional Shire/Town Category.

Presented by the Regional Capitals Alliance of WA, the award acknowledges the Shire's commitment to improving access and inclusion for the community, including people with a disability.

The Awards were judged on 4 criteria -

  • Improve the accessibility of Council infrastructure and public open space;
  • Inclusive communication technology and information initiatives;
  • Accessible and inclusive Council services, programs and events;
  • Exercises leadership and influences community attitudes and perceptions

Shire Community Development Officer, Katie Taylor said the ongoing success in the area of accessibility was due to a top-down culture of access and inclusion across the organisation.

"Staff have the knowledge and are passionate about ensuring our services, infrastructure and programs are inclusive and accessible for everyone to participate," she said.

The award recognises Councils that go above and beyond the statutory access requirements and that are adaptive and responsive to community needs.

The Shire was commended on their range of inclusive programs and services, strong employment focus and on their active Community Access and Inclusion Reference Group that ensures people with disability are involved throughout all major Shire redevelopments and projects.

"The inclusivity of key community services such as the Margaret River Recreation Centre and the Shire Libraries has been widely recognised.

"These facilities have a strong culture of inclusion, staff are flexible with their service and open to collaborating with people with disabilities in implementing innovative programs which enables people with a disability to participate equally alongside other members of the community.

"This is evident in the significant number of people with a disability being regular users of the library, gym, pool and exercise rooms, and having regular social lunches in the recreation centre café."

Other highlights included:

  • The Shire's commitment to becoming a Dementia Friendly Community;
  • A Socially Inclusive Communities Project with Inclusion Solutions to ensure inclusivity of local sporting clubs;
  • Meeting onsite and participating in walking audits with people with disability to ensure pathways, roads and kerb ramps are accessible, connected and well maintained;
  • Developing staff awareness and skills for providing good customer service to people with a disability;
  • Strong engagement with the AMR Community Access and Inclusion Reference Group (over 100 members);
  • Accessibility inputs to the recent HEART Precinct development and the upcoming Main Street Redevelopment Projects;
  • Encouraging accessible community and Shire run events with people with disability involved in event planning and implementation; and
  • Being innovative in our approach, collaborating with people with a disability in order to ensure community infrastructure and public open spaces are useable and welcoming for everyone.

"The Shire is committed to continue to create and foster an inclusive and accessible community for all to live, work, play, invest and visit, whilst also recognising the importance of working in collaboration with the community to break down social barriers to inclusion and to drive sustainable change from within the community itself."