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Disability inclusion training session

Ideas (Information on Disability Education and Awareness Services) staff members: Diana Palmer, Hillary Wilde, Leisha Wray, Kate Galloway, consultant Eva Ash, Nick Glasson, Kath Hetherington, and (front) Sang Chung and Lara Palmer were some of the more than 25 attendees at this week’s training workshops.

Disability information company Ideas held a two-day training session in Tumut this week, with employees travelling from Sydney, Melbourne, Wollongong, and Newcastle to attend.

Ideas stands for Information on Disability Education and Awareness Services, and their role is to inform and empower people with disabilities to live full lives – and with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolling out in Tumut in July, they’ve got their hands full.

The training days featured a workshop on public speaking and confidence delivered by Melbourne consultant Eva Ash, and a workshop on disability inclusion run by Barbel Winter of consultancy group Futures Upfront.

“It’s on what disability inclusion actually means,” said Ideas Executive Officer Diana Palmer.

“Our staff are very well aware of that, but it’s still good for them to go through a detailed and in depth training session that takes them outside their comfort zone.

“[The sessions have gone] very well, we got some great feedback and some great strategies that we will incorporate into our workplace.”

Ideas offer services in Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle, and Tumut, with their call centre, database support, and website administration teams all being located here.

This is their third Tumut-located training session, with this one taking place at Club Tumut.

Ideas encourages anyone who thinks they may be eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme to check the ‘access checker’ section of ndis.gov.au.

They strongly encourage anyone with any questions or who would like assistance making the transfer to get in contact.

“That isn’t just support plans, or planning for day to day care, it’s also about: what are your goals and aspirations in life, what are the things that you really want to work on?” Ms Palmer said.

Disability inclusion: what can you do?

One of the key principles of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, as Ideas Executive Officer Diana Palmer explained, is to ensure disabled people are included in their communities.

“We need to make the mainstream community aware that people with disabilities have the same rights as everyone else, and should be included in the community just like everyone else,” she said.

“Part of the scheme in the NDIS is to make sure people are included in and are participating in the community better than they are now.”

The NDIS is a nation-wide funding and strategic overhaul of the way the federal government supports people with disabilities, but Ideas say there are simple things everyone can do to make Tumut a better place to be for everyone.

Ideas Marketing and Business Development Officer Jenelle Becker said it’s often as simple as looking someone in the eye.

“Really simple things like being acknowledged in the street by name, and at your height, adds to how belonged you feel in the community,” she said.

“If someone is out with a carer or support worker, it’s important that someone speaking to them doesn’t address the carer and support worker rather than the person themselves.

“We do that because we’re scared and uncomfortable, but we just need to muscle up and look people in the eyes. Something like that can change how someone feels in the community.”

For businesses, ensuring their doorways and aisles are clear is one step they can take.

“There’s a lot that retailers can do: keeping their doors and aisles clear, having lower counters, and having customer seating for someone who needs to have a rest if they have asthma, diabetes, heart conditions etc.,” Janelle explained.

She also stressed that even language used can make someone feel more equal.

‘Wheelchair user’ is more respectful than ‘cripple,’ ‘person of short stature’ is kinder than ‘dwarf’ or ‘midget,’ and ‘person with disability’ rather than ‘disabled person’ emphasises a subject’s humanity over their disability Ms Becker said it’s all about making the most of every member of the community.

“A lot of the barriers [for people with disabilities] are attitudinal,” she said.

“It’s things like recognising that our similarities are greater than our differences as humans, that all our human rights are equal.”

The NDIS will be rolled out in Tumut in July.