Community Inclusion

When everyone is included, everyone wins” – Unknown

Community Inclusion is not about just about being physically present in the community or living in a house in the community, when envisioning community inclusion for people with disabilities, it is about community membership–”being part of the community”.

Being part of the community means that a person with a disability is:

  • Well known within the community-they may be a regular customer at a coffee shop, the bank or local supermarket
  • They feel safe in that environment
  • Relationships are reciprocal with others
  • There is a sense of belonging
  • A person has social connections and networks within the community
  • The person is asked to participate and work with others within the community
  • The person’s views are valued within their community

Community inclusion is seen as part of the paradigm shift in the disability sector, and the practice of community inclusion has the following key elements:

  • Relationship building and relationship development between people with and without disabilities
  • Focus on people with disabilities as individuals with lifestyle choices, interests and desires
  • People with disability have life goals they set, change and aspire to with support from formal and informal networks in the community
  • People with disability actively participating in their lives, e.g. shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills etc
  • People with disability supported (if needed) to actively participate in their community e.g. vote, take part in council reference groups or other local groups such as dog walking etc

Often, “community inclusion” is confused with “community tourism”. Community tourism is when people with disabilities are driven around in a “special” bus, going shopping or maybe attending a swimming program, they are physically present in the community-but have little or no interaction with other members of the community.

The best way in which to assist an individual with a disability to be included in the community is to find out their interests and passions and to find a like-minded group within the community, thus, making it more conducive for the person to build genuine reciprocal relationships with other community members.

In a post NDIS era, the segregation and congregation of people with disabilities is no longer acceptable. Community inclusion means weaving a new tapestry for people with disabilities, with all its’ achievements, struggles and times where the pathway may be fraught with heartaches, but also with the joys and laughter that everyone experiences throughout life.

Knowledge is power!

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