Penrith Council has locked in its plan to make the city more inclusive and accessible over the next four years.
Councillors endorsed the Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) for 2022-2026 at the last Ordinary Meeting and voted to provide additional funding to make several projects happen.
The plan that contains 58 actions was developed with Council’s Access Committee with real life opinions contributed from people living with disability, carers and support workers.
With the draft plan put on public exhibition throughout April and May this year, Penrith Mayor Tricia Hitchen thanked the community for their feedback.
“We’ve spent the last few months engaging with the community for their feedback and are proud to present a finalised plan,” Cr Hitchen said.
“Every day, people living with disability can experience barriers that prevent them from leading meaningful, independent lives.
“The plan gives us focus for the next four years to improve this and we then we can look back on what didn’t work the last time or what needs more effort this time.”
The report stated that the opportunity for four ‘stretch’ projects were identified with an estimated cost of $220,000 that would require additional funding but would gain significant traction and impact.
With funding found within existing budgets for three, there would be a shortfall of approximately $50,000 for one project.
Councillor Ross Fowler moved a recommendation to contribute the extra money from Voted Works which all Councillors committed to.
With the Access Committee celebrating 30 years in 2022, Cr Hitchen, who is Chair of the Committee, said she appreciated her colleagues’ generosity.
“Over the years Council has realised the importance the Access Committee has to the community, and we have become one of the leading councils in NSW and possibly Australia for accessibility,” she said.
“I am really proud that my fellow Councillors came along and agreed to contribute so we can get it done.”
The four ‘stretch’ projects that will provide additional benefits are a public awareness campaign, autism-friendly play space guides, a plan to boost meaningful employment for people living with disability and developing Pedestrian Access and Mobility Plans (PAMP).
“Each child has different needs so if we can articulate what the disability friendly play spaces contain people know exactly where to go,” she said.
“A lot of people with disabilities couldn’t travel for jobs or access workplaces but with COVID unlocking working from home we can now increase the knowledge that some people are able to be employed and contribute in a meaningful way.
“Another thing is we have a lot of accessible car parking spaces, but they often don’t have paths, so I asked Council to do an audit of the spaces and the paths of travel to shopping centres and places people need to go in the CBD.”
Read the final plan at penrith.city/disabilityplan.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers Local, State and Federal politics for the Weekender, as well as crime and general news.