COMMENT

Making a vital connection with others | Mindful Margaret River & the Mail

Making a vital connection with others | Mindful Margaret River & the Mail

The Mail is teaming with Mindful Margaret River to share guidance and support from local members of the Mindful Margaret River alliance.

December 3rd is the International Day of People with Disability.

Declared by the United Nations in 1992, the day aims to promote greater awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability.

Each year has a specific theme and in 2020 it is 'Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World'.

While in WA we have been spared much of the havoc and disruption wreaked by the pandemic, the mental health and wellbeing of many people has been impacted by increased social isolation and loneliness; economic insecurity; disrupted routines and the loss of supports.

At the same time, we have seen a wave of good will and a rejuvenated sense of community and social cohesion as people have shown an increased willingness to get involved and find new ways of connecting to each other.

In 'Building Back Better' there is the opportunity for all of us to reassess and refocus on what is really important in a post COVID-19 world.

While in WA we have been spared much of the havoc and disruption wreaked by the pandemic, the mental health and wellbeing of many people has been impacted by increased social isolation and loneliness; economic insecurity; disrupted routines and the loss of supports.

Robyn Massey

It's an opportunity to rebuild and reset our sense of togetherness and neighbourliness, and our acceptance and understanding of others.

A society which is inclusive, accessible and sustainable, where everyone is connected and cares for each other, is one in which everyone will thrive.

So, what does an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world really mean for people with a disability - and how can we as individuals and members of the local community help achieve these aims and make a difference?

Being included, having a sense of purpose and belonging and being connected to others are all important for our mental wellbeing.

More than four million, or almost 1:5 Australians have a disability. People with disability experience loneliness and social isolation at significantly higher rates than people without disability. And, while it is important to have a high quality service system, it is our friendships, family and place in the community which make us feel happy and valued.

A truly welcoming community appreciates diversity and is supportive of all of its members. We can all play a role in making a more inclusive and accessible community. It's often the simple, spontaneous things which make the difference:

  • a friendly wave and hello in the street;
  • giving recognition and acknowledgement for a job well done or having a go;
  • being welcomed into the sporting club;
  • being invited to join a local hobby group;
  • being asked 'are you ok';
  • being included in the conversation; or
  • being given the opportunity to become a valued employee.

An accessible community enables everyone to participate with dignity and respect. It is about removing physical as well as attitudinal barriers which can unnecessarily limit the participation of people with disability in daily life and activities.

Thoughtful design can mean that everyone has the opportunity to be a part of and contribute to the community - be it playing in the playground; studying; accessing work experience; joining the local sporting or crafts club; volunteering; being employed; going shopping; or borrowing books from the library.

A sustainable post-COVID world means that partnerships across all levels of government, industry, organisations and communities are essential to support innovation and social cohesion into the future. It means that services need to be adequately funded to deliver quality and reliable supports and that communities are designed to support social connection for all.

MMR is a tangible example of the community taking responsibility for the wellbeing of its members. It is about including all people, valuing diversity and acknowledging that most of us need a bit of extra support at some point in our lives, to have a happy, fulfilling life.

A healthy, happy community recognises and values the contributions of all its members.

- Robyn Massey

Mindful Margaret River is an alliance of mental wellbeing professionals, agencies, community members and the AMR Shire established to promote health and wellbeing. www.mindfulmargaretriver.org.au