About this resource

What is this resource about?

This resource aims to build the capacity of local governments to identify and plan for strategies and actions to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.

It includes a framework for action based on the current experiences of local governments in Australia. It does not propose a one-size-fits-all approach, as local governments operate in different geographical, legislative, economic and cultural contexts, all of which influence how they meet the needs of their communities. As such, some elements of the framework will be more relevant and applicable than others.

The resource is intended to support local governments to make their communities as accessible and inclusive as possible whilst taking into account the challenges they face.

Who is it for?

This resource is for all local governments across Australia. It is for small rural local governments and large metropolitan ones; it is for local governments which are in growth areas and ones with ageing populations.

The resource can be used by elected members, executives and staff as a framework to guide thinking and decision-making about how to deliver, enable or advocate for services to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.

The resource can also be used by local government partners (including other levels of government), businesses and community organisations.

How was it developed?

This resource was developed by the University of Technology Sydney Institute for Public Policy and Governance and grant funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). It was developed using an evidence-based approach with six phases:

  1. A review of legislation to understand the legislative basis for access and inclusion in Australia.
  2. A review of national and international academic and grey literature to understand the enablers and barriers to local governments planning for inclusion.
  3. Short form interviews with nearly 50 local governments to understand existing practice.
  4. Interviews with local government associations, state and territory government disability and local government departments, and peak disability organisations.
  5. Site visits to local governments across Australia (details in Appendix A). The local governments represent a range of contexts, sizes and localities. Participants included elected members; local government staff; people with disability, their families and carers; service providers, representatives from community organisations and disability advisory committees.
  6. An online, national survey of local governments to test the nature and extent of responses to the social and economic participation of people with disability.

Each phase contributed to a comprehensive national view of local government strategies, policies and programs, what an effective response looks like in different contexts and the opportunities to increase social and economic participation.

In addition, a cross-sector Reference Group reviewed key documents and provided input into the methodology. This group included representatives from local government associations, disability advocates, local governments and the NDIA to ensure that this resource reflects the current need in the sector and is responsive to different contexts, as well as the national disability reform agenda.

What are the examples used?

Examples of what local governments are currently doing are based on information collected during and following the site visits. The aim is to provide inspiration to other local governments from a range of contexts and locations. Further information about the site visits is at Appendix A.

The scope of this research project did not include Western Australia or the Northern Territory so there are no examples from these jurisdictions.

Key terms and definitions

Access means that all community members have equal opportunity to use every community area, facility and service. This includes:

  • Ensuring public places have an entrance and interior that people with disability can enter and move around.
  • Providing facilities for people with disability in public places such as wheelchair-accessible toilets, lift buttons within reach and tactile and audible signals for people with vision impairment.
  • Ensuring that people with disability can enter and use all public areas of a premises and not just a segregated area with a facility.
  • Providing any information available to users of premises or service in a format that people with disability can engage with and understand, for example signage, labels, directions, instructions and public documents.

These requirements are outlined in the Disability (Access to Premises ? Buildings) Standards 2010 and the Building Code of Australia.

Social and economic participation means that people with disability, their families and carers have equal opportunity to engage in all aspects of civic and economic life.

Inclusion means that people with disability, their families and carers can access and participate fully in all aspects of social, political and economic life with the same opportunity and in the same way as any other member of the community. This means that people with disability are not put in a situation where they participate in mainstream and community settings, for example, in facilities or work groups, as an identifiable group of people. People with disability may choose to act together publicly, for example, in disability advisory committees and campaigns but these are strategic rather than programmatic groupings.

This resource mainly uses the term social and economic participation as this was the focus of the research.

Further reading

The other key documents from the research project are available can be found at ippg.uts.edu.au:

  • Local Government Interface Project Desktop Review.
  • Findings from the National Survey of Local Governments.

A discussion of the legislative and policy context is also provided in the Australian Local Government Association report, Disability inclusion Planning – A Guide for Local Government is available here.

A place-based framework for local government

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability because local governments are influenced by specific, place-based contexts, which include:

  • Location (metropolitan, regional, rural or remote).
  • Legislative and regulatory frameworks.
  • Community needs and whether those needs are met by other levels of government or other organisations.
  • Organisational capacity and the capacity of key delivery partners.
  • The availability of resources (people, time, allocation of revenue and availability of funding).
  • Geographical factors, such as community dispersion and the distance from mainstream and disability specific services.

However, this project identified key elements which exist to varying degrees across different local governments to support social and economic participation.

The place-based framework

The research findings support a placed-based framework for local governments to increase social and economic participation. It consists of six elements, but within each element there is a range of different responses, all of which depend on the place-based context of the local government. The research showed that most local governments deliver actions for some elements, although there is wide variation in the nature and intensity of these actions.

The placed-based framework for what local government does and can do to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability is shown below.

A place-based framework diagram: How local governments can increase the social and economic participation of people with disability

How is this resource structured?

This resource is divided into six sections which represent the elements in the placed-based framework:

  1. Engage people with disability about their needs.
  2. Plan, implement and measure outcomes.
  3. Build capacity and leadership.
  4. Build collaborative networks and partnerships.
  5. Advocate within and outside the sector.
  6. Boost local employment.

There is a checklist at the end of each section which summarises the spectrum of potential actions for the element. The aim of the checklists is to support local governments in identifying where they can take action to increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.