Leading disability inclusion, one conversation at a time

Published On: 6 December 2021Categories: NDIS, News

South East Queensland community gardens are stepping up their inclusion and accessibility for people with disability, with the help of Carers Queensland.

Carers Queensland is working one-to-one with community gardens in the south east corner to help them integrate access and inclusion fundamentals into their policy frameworks and daily operations.

“A lot of what we do is support gardens, who are mostly run by volunteers, to understand how access and inclusion can look in their space and what the benefits can be. Then we encourage them to start with small steps in making changes – harvesting the low hanging fruit, so to speak,” Jasmin Fawcett Clarke, Local Area Coordinator said.

“In this way, we already have four or five community gardens that are becoming ready to offer people with disability opportunities to learn self-sufficient garden skills and socialise in a welcome place where they receive the great benefits to mental, physical and emotional health that gardening brings.”

Carers Queensland is working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to deliver the Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program, supporting Australians with disability to live fulfilling and connected lives, and building connections and partnerships with local community services to increase opportunities for people with disability to participate socially and economically in the ways they choose.

Carers Queensland’s Inclusive Community Gardens Forum in Brisbane in March 2021 started a number of conversations within gardens about making their spaces more accessible for, and inviting to, people with disability.

Taringa Community Gardens is one of the gardens taking a lead in the disability inclusion space.

Claire Putt, President of the garden, explained that after attending the Inclusive Community Garden Forum, she connected with Carers Queensland for additional support as they began making their community garden more disability-friendly.

“We identified that although the gardens were built to the guidelines for accessibility, such as raised and wheelchair accessible garden beds, there were still other things that we could do to make sure that people with disability could get involved,” Claire said.

“For example, we updated our induction process for volunteers, giving them the skills to respectfully ask new members if they have any additional support needs.

“This change has increased the confidence of our garden volunteers to welcome people with disability to participate.”

To date, Carers Queensland has connected with community gardens and local councils in Brisbane, Logan, Moreton Bay, Ipswich and Sunshine Coast regions, working closely with community garden leaders and council officers to shape disability inclusion in the community garden space from the ground up.

“It’s time to let people know that this work is happening and community gardens are working hard to become truly accessible and inclusive,” Ms Fawcett Clarke said.

“The inclusion journey starts with small steps and we are available to support these valuable community organisations with the information and connection to resources they need to become disability-friendly.”

Contact Carers Queensland NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community program to find out more about our work with community gardens.

Call the Carers Queensland Enqiries Line on 1300 999 636, email cq-enquiries@ndis.gov.au, and visit www.carersqld.com.au/ndis to look for events near you and subscribe to the newsletter.