The State Government wants to hear from people with disability, their families, carers and the disability sector about how South Australia can be made more accessible and inclusive. We talk to proudly physically disabled and neurodivergent queer person Evan Johnson about why your say matters.
The stats show disability is part of SA life
- One in five South Australians live with disability.
- Eight per cent of children aged 0-14 years old and 11 per cent of young people aged 15-24 years old live with disability.
- South Australian children and young people aged 0–18 years make up more than half of all NDIS participants in the state.
- 38 per cent of Aboriginal peoples have disability in Australia, compared to 18 per cent of non-Aboriginal people.
- Around 29 per cent of people with profound disability in Australia belong to culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Meet Evan Johnson – definitely way more than a stat!
Evan Johnson is a disability and queer rights advocate and university student studying occupational therapy. He’s a proudly physically disabled and neurodivergent queer person.
He’s also a member of the South Australian Government Disability Engagement Group, which aims to embody the famous motto of “nothing about us without us” – in other words, participation of people with disabilities in decisions that affect them is key.
Evan says the role of the group is “to inform key stakeholders within the government about what our communities are experiencing and what we want, giving our thoughts and opinions on what the State Government’s proposing”. And that includes the new State Disability Inclusion Plan.
The road so far – Inclusive SA
The inaugural four-year State Disability Inclusion Plan – also known as Inclusive SA – ends this year, and Evan says it has driven change towards making SA a better place for people with disability.
When it comes to what the plan covers, it’s “pretty much everything,” Evan says; “It’s not just medical care. It’s all areas of life. Community engagement is very important for individuals living with disability.”
He says you can see the changes for the better if you look around at what’s different now for people with a disability in terms of infrastructure, as well as access to education and health care.
Inclusive SA progress
For instance, the State Government is working with local councils and groups to provide “beach access for all”, by providing features like access matting and floating wheelchairs at popular seaside spots. It has also developed Inclusive Play guidelines so that local councils and community groups can ensure new playgrounds are accessible and inclusive.
Then there’s the Pavely smartphone app, which makes it quick and easy to check the accessibility of Adelaide venues and businesses – it’s the perfect tool to ensure your next catch up with friends doesn’t exclude your mates with disability. Evan says it’s a “really cool” app and wants more people to be aware of it.
Plus there’s the Inclusive SA website which provides a handy hub linking people with disability to key resources, as well as raising awareness about disability among the wider community.
Time for a new plan!
Despite these wins, Evan says there’s still a long way to go to build an inclusive South Australia. That means we need a new State Disability Inclusion Plan to keep driving progress towards inclusion for people with disability over the next four years.
For the new Plan to drive meaningful change, it needs to draw on the expertise, experiences and advice of the diverse South Australians with lived experience of disability.
A conversation starter
A Discussion Paper has been released to start the conversation with those community members about what an inclusive and accessible South Australia looks like, how we get there and what’s holding us back.
The Paper talks about the concept of intersectionality – the ways in which different aspects of a person’s identity can expose them to overlapping forms of disadvantage.
Evan agrees that intersectionality is important for the new plan. “If you’re First Nations or come from a low socio-economic background, or you live regionally, or you’re queer – all of these things start to pile up and you’re going to have worse health outcomes,” he says.
He says the new plan needs to ensure we do more for these people facing really quite significant barriers to accessing healthcare, as well as to other things like education, because we know health literacy is a huge part of having good health outcomes.
“We also know health is more than just not being sick,” he says. “It’s about being able to engage with your community environment”. So addressing accessibility and inclusivity across the board is also key to ensuring more people with disabilities can live lives that are meaningful to them.
It’s time to be heard!
Right now, the State Government wants to hear from people with disability, their families, carers and the disability sector about how South Australia can be made more accessible and inclusive. Hearing from as many people with a disability as possible means their voices can be front and centre of this new State Plan, ensuring it makes a positive difference.
Evan says it’s important for people with a disability to have their say because “there are so many things you would never think of unless you live it”. “So bringing that kind of lens of lived experience is something we need more of,” he says.
Alongside the public consultation, there will be targeted forums, workshops and interviews with people with disability and the disability sector to ensure a wide range of voices are included in the plan. This includes priority groups like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culturally and linguistically diverse people, women, children, LGBTIQA+ people, older people and people living in regional or remote communities.
Want more? Evan Johnson joins Matt, Anna and Tim on Hot Topics to discuss how South Australia can be made more accessible and inclusive:
The new plan will work alongside the State Autism Strategy, being driven by the Department of Human Services and the Office for Autism. You can read all about how SA is working towards becoming the ‘Autism Inclusive State’.
Once the consultation process for the plan is over, a new draft State Disability Inclusion Plan will be created. The community will then have the chance to be involved in further consultation. This is to make sure the plan accurately reflects the feedback provided and will drive positive change towards inclusion for South Australians with disability.
How to have your say
You’ve got until 3 December 2023 to take part in the community consultation process, and there are plenty of ways to have your voice heard. You can:
- Respond to the online survey at https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/disability-inclusion-plan.
- Use the questions in the discussion paper at https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/disability-inclusion-plan as a guide to submit written, audio, visual and video submissions by email to DHSDisabilityInclusion@sa.gov.au.
- Email or snail-mail your feedback to DHS – the addresses are on YourSAy at https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/disability-inclusion-plan.
- If you have further questions or accessibility requirements, call (08) 8207 0584 or email DHSDisabilityInclusion@sa.gov.au.
For more information about the State Disability Inclusion Plan consultation process and how to have your say, visit the Inclusive SA website.