[General Information from the City of Fremantle’s 2007-2012 Disability Access and Inclusion Plans as required under the Disability Services Act 1993 (WA)].
There are approximately 24, 276 people living in Fremantle which includes a large ageing population. The disability population within the City of Fremantle is approximately 9000 people. Additionally, there are almost two million visitors to Fremantle on an annual basis, though the proportion of these visitors who are either ageing or have a disability is unclear.
Given the large number of Fremantle residents affected, either directly or indirectly, by disability, it is therefore essential that the City of Fremantle have a strong disability access and inclusion policy, to ensure that all of its citizens are able to participate on par with their able-bodied counterparts, and enjoy the same life opportunities.
Thus, the following areas have been targeted to ensure such a process:
- Local employment within the council for people with a disability;
- Health, well-being and community recreation;
- New developments;
- Re-developments; and
- Streetscape design.
Council Employment for people with disabilities:
Currently, the City of Fremantle has made a commitment to increase the number of people with disabilities employed by the Council. Whilst this is a welcome feature of the Council’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, it needs to be strengthened in the following manner:
- set employment target to reflect the proportion of working aged City of Fremantle residents with disability (approximately 25%);
- develop strategies to ensure that people with disabilities employed within the City of Fremantle are distributed equitably across all layers of Council – from front line administrative positions, through to professional and managerial positions and establish incremental targets to ensure that this occurs;
- actively encourage the application by local residents with disability as part of this process;
- ensure that an appropriate training and development strategy is implemented to facilitate the career development of council employees with disability; and
- adopt procurement strategies which require all outsourced services (not just those delivering ‘traditional’ public services) to recruit and employ people with disability and implement contractual monitoring procedures to ensure that this process is maintained.
Staff Awareness of Disability:
- implement extensive orientation package for staff (both front end and non-public contact roles) covering the issues of disability, ageing, cultural diversity, gender and Aboriginality; and
- establish annual staff development strategies to ensure that staff awareness of disability, diversity and ageing issues are up-to-date and relevant to the local population groups.
Health, Well-being and Recreation:
Even though general health activities are outside the Council’s jurisdiction, the Council does have the capacity to implement a range of planning and regulatory practices to ensure that private health services are delivered with dignity and respect. In particular, the Council has the capacity to ensure that all private medical practices, well-being centres and recreation services are both accessible and inclusive through the following means:
- all new business licenses in the area of health services (including medical, general practitioner, physio, occupational therapy etc) must comply with disability accessible building standards and make any modifications prior to receiving operating approvals;
- all new businesses within the area of health services must undertake disability awareness training, or demonstrate that they have a thorough knowledge of disability, particularly in regards to understanding the differences between health related issues and disability issues to ensure that they can serve all of the potential client group;
- all recreation and wellbeing organizations (gyms, fitness centres, alternative therapy centres etc) meet building access requirements, and disability awareness requirements as outlined in the above two points;
- the council will upgrade annually one children’s playground to meet disability access and inclusion requirements for the local children of Fremantle.
Local recreation facilities will be upgraded to ensure disability accessibility, which is built on the principles of independence, dignity and respect. Staff will be required to undertake disability training. Training will target specialized staff who provide recreation programs within the Fremantle centres to ensure that they can make a diversity of adjustments to their programs to meet all of the participants. Thus, this is greater than ‘disability awareness training’.
Council will also explore the opportunities to employ a personal assistant on site within the recreation centres to assist people with disability and ageing residents in areas such as showering and getting changed.
Finally, accessible parking bays at key recreational and cultural sites need to be expanded, particularly for wheelchair users. While Council allows ACROD parking holders to use any available parking at any time, the width of the parking spaces render this ineffective as wheelchair users are unable to manoeuvre within this limited space and it may, in some instances, be dangerous.
New Developments, Re-developments and Street-Scapes:
All new developments will be required to meet disability access and inclusion standards as laid out in the Australian Building Code. To ensure that this occurs, I will recommend that Council adopt the following process:
- applicant needs to demonstrate clearly within the application process how the development meets the disability standards as outlined in the Australian Building Code;
- planning check this process and identify any issues that have not been addressed and if there is an exemption (such as heritage) then alternative disability access and inclusion standards must be identified;
- planning application is sent to the Fremantle Council’s Disability Access Committee (DAC) to view the application to ensure that this has been met;
- once approved by the DAC, the process can then be sent to Council – the cover page must clearly indicate this process has been followed and where in doubt, council approval should not be granted.
It will be a general requirement for all new large scale housing developments (private, government or community) to include a minimum requirement of25% disability accessible housing stock as part of that development.