A better understanding and much easier implementation of legal and social obligations for local governments towards their citizens with disabilities have been provided by the release of a new manual by the Disability Services Commission.
Disability Services Minister Tony McRae announced today that ‘Disability Access and Inclusion Plan’ manuals had been sent out to Western Australia’s 144 local governments, to enable them to comply with recent changes to disability legislation at the local government convention organised by the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), to mark Local Government Week.
“Under the original Disability Services Act (1993), all State Government departments and local governments were required to develop a Disability Service Plan, or DSP,” Mr McRae said.
“DSPs have made a great difference to how people with disabilities access services, but many barriers remain, preventing them from participating fully in community life.
“Amendments to the Disability Services Act in 2004 took up this challenge, strengthened requirements by broadening the focus from ‘access’, a passive concept, to ‘inclusion’, a concept which requires agencies to take action to reach out and embrace all people.
“DSPs have been renamed Disability Access and Inclusion Plans, or DAIPs to better reflect this broader intention of creating a more inclusive society.”
All public instrumentalities, including local governments, must have operational DAIPs by July 2007 and the manual is part of the Disability Services Commission’s effort to develop resources to help make the transition.
“In addition to the manual, staff have been providing training sessions and a continuous ‘on-call’ service for hundreds of agencies who have to comply with the legalisation by the end of this financial year,” the Minister said.
“Local governments have had access to funding of $350,000 to support the changes by employing project officers, developing practices to encourage people with disabilities into mainstream community programs and promoting new access and inclusion initiatives.”
Mr McRae said the DAIP manual gave clear practical advice and methods to local governments, equipping them to review and improve their services and informing them fully of what was required of them.
“WALGA has been, and continues to be, a key partner in this process, providing valuable input and co-ordinating communication across what is a very large and diverse field,” he said.
“Local governments are in a unique position to improve opportunities for people with disabilities within their local communities, and have over the years set a high standard in responding to the needs of people with disabilities, in the traditional LGA culture of hard work, community-mindedness and creativity.”
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