Advocate

Advocate within and outside the sector

Overview

Local governments cannot increase social and economic participation on their own. They need to advocate for greater awareness and consideration of the needs of people with disability; and they need to promote the economic and social case for greater access and inclusion with other levels of government, developers and local businesses.

Most local governments advocate on behalf of their communities to a range of different government and non-government organisations. They also advocate at different scales, for example, working with local business to improve accessibility into premises or with state governments for resources to establish services and infrastructure. Advocacy is often most powerful where local governments collaborate with each other at a sub-regional or regional basis via existing arrangements or new partnerships for a specific purpose.

This section provides information about how local governments advocate within and outside the local government sector.

Advocate in planning and development

In many local government areas there are plans for significant road and public transport infrastructure and residential and retail centre development or redevelopment. Many local governments use these opportunities to increase social and economic inclusion via access improvements. Although developers comply with the Building Code of Australia and Disability Discrimination Act Standards, local governments are aware that the standards do not always meet the needs of all people with disability. As such and as the national survey showed, many local governments often try to influence a higher standard for inclusion as part of local government planning and development processes. Furthermore, the survey showed that over half advocate on behalf of people with disability for greater accessibility in the design of public and private infrastructure and more accessible public transport.

Local governments influence different stakeholders differently. With state and territory governments, many local governments make formal submissions, especially regarding large infrastructure projects, to try to influence both the outcomes and the design process.

Some local governments also build the capacity of people with disability to advocate for issues which are important to them.

Increase local business capacity

Local governments understand that to increase social and economic participation at a local level requires the engagement of local businesses, in particular around accessibility, but also in terms of how businesses respond to people with disability and how they provide information to them.

As such, many local governments advocate to businesses to raise their understanding about the needs of people with disability, their families and carers and how to make their businesses accessible and inclusive.

In addition, the national survey showed that almost half of local governments in Australia provide grant funding to make their services and facilities more accessible.

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Checklist of actions to advocate within and outside the sector