The Council and Benalla Health have been awarded the Communication Accessibility Symbol, recognising the high quality of communication access available for people with disability across the organisations’ facilities.
The assessment was made of the Council and Benalla Health and was completed by the Communication Access Network, the communication resource centre for Scope Victoria, a peak disability support service. It covered the Customer Service Centre, The Ray Sweeney Community Care Centre, the Benalla Art Gallery and the Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre (BPACC), and Benalla Health facilities.
Assessors reported very positive experience across all Benalla sites, with staff consistently displaying patience, and using appropriate strategies to understand the assessors’ messages.
“Staff frequently went beyond what assessors felt was required in the assistance they offered with enquiries,” the report said.
“[The assessors] felt like valued potential customers, visitors or patients, appreciated the efforts the staff went to, and would feel comfortable calling back.”
Since receiving the award the Council has also started using communication boards to assist access for people living with significant communication difficulties.
The facilities where the communication boards can be used include the Customer Service Centre, Benalla Community Care Ray Sweeney Centre, BPACC and the Benalla Art Gallery.
This intiative is the result of a partnership between the Council and the East Hume Regional Communication Service (auspiced through Gateway Health). The East Hume Regional Communication Service developed communication boards and provided training to council staff on how to make council more accessible for people with communication difficulties.
The Council has also just completed community engagement around its proposed Community Access and Inclusion Plan, which outlines activities the Council can undertake to make Benalla Rural City more inclusive and accessible for people living with a disability.
“The Council is taking important step towards making council services more accessible,” said Mayor Cr Justin King.
“Partnerships with organisations like Benalla Health are an important part of that,” Cr King said.
“Approximately 20 per cent of the Australian population live with a disability, and in Benalla Rural City that equates to nearly 3,000 people. With over half of all people over the age of 50 having some form of sight, hearing or mobility impairment, it is vital that the principles of access and inclusion are incorporated into all of our day to day activities,” he said.
“As well as providing some practical steps we can take to ensure access, the plan also allows us to show leadership to the rest of the community. Making the community more accessible does not have to be complicated. There are things we can all do to make our workplaces, businesses and organisations more inclusive.”