Fair Go: More than getting them through the door


Two weeks ago, I took part in the Wings for Life World Run - a fun run with a difference. On May 5, at 11am UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time), I, along with others from all over the world, simultaneously took to our local start lines to run and wheel in support of spinal cord research. What sets this fun run apart is the global synchronisation of the starting gun – whether day or night, sunshine or thunderstorms, participants in every corner of the world, at that very same time, were sharing a common activity and a common objective: creating a world where spinal cord injuries can be cured.

In years gone by, Australians living with spinal cord injuries, and other disabilities necessitating the use of a wheelchair, were frequently excluded from the workplace. Since then we have seen progress; in 2010, Australian legislation was introduced regarding the physical accessibility of all new and upgraded public buildings. However, 95.6% of Australians living with a disability do not require a wheelchair. The diversity within the term ‘disability’ is immense and therefore so too is the definition of ‘accessibility’.

Research suggests that one in five people will experience disability at some stage of their life. This is a statistic which is of great relevance to organisations; this one in five could be your employee, your client or stakeholder, or yourself. In fact, at the Australian Network on Disability’s 2018 Annual National Conference, keynote speaker Kate Nash recommended employers assume that 10% of their people are living with disability at any given time. 

With this in mind, consider your own workplace: how inclusive is it for those living with all forms of disability?

Although physical accessibility is important, creating an inclusive workplace environment is not only about providing accessible equipment and physical premises. Consider also the less tangible facets of accessibility; do the attitudes, policies and interactions in your workplace promote the full and effective participation of those employees living with disability? For example, the term “Access and Inclusion Plan” is much more inclusive than “Disability Action Plan”; the language is more positive and captures the needs of a more diverse range of people. Similarly, bathrooms and car parks are now appropriately described as “accessible”, rather than “disabled”. 

Here at Diversity Inclusion, our mission is to support every industry and sector in Australia to become more diverse and inclusive. Accordingly, we have developed and delivered two independent tools which aim to assess: (1) an organisation’s level of cultural inclusivity; and (2) the inclusivity of physical infrastructure and facilities. Following this assessment, it is our goal to ensure that every person gets a fair go. In support of this we have developed and delivered our Fair Go 5 tool, which assists managers and organisations to give individuals living with disability a ‘fair go’ at work. We also have experience in inclusive recruitment, assisting organisations to enjoy the full benefit of the diversity which exists in our society.

If your organisation would like support in creating an inclusive workplace environment, where those living with disability are able to work and contribute to their full potential, we would love to hear from you.

- Georgia Brown, Diversity Inclusion