A new project helping Victorian youth workers ensure their services are accessible and inclusive of young people with disability was launched by Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS).
Online resource, Together: Building an Inclusive Youth Sector, has been brought to life through a state-first collaboration between young people with disability and youth workers.
The resource covers what inclusion is, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), communicating with young people with disability, asking questions, planning accessible events and activities and some practical ideas and strategies to implement in the workplace.
Project Officer at YDAS, Sebastian Antoine says youth workers rarely get a chance to learn about or discuss access and inclusion, causing further segregation within the community.
“Often we hear services say that everybody is welcome and that everybody can come.
“But when someone with disability comes, services are unsure of how to best support them.
“For many service providers, it’s the first time they’ve been able to critically engage with young people with disability about what is working and what is not.”
Mr Antoine says it's important to ask a disability service if it is inclusive or accessible.
“Always ask them how they would like to work with you. If you feel like it might be a silly question, don’t worry, chances are someone else has already asked that question.”
“It’s so important that young people with disability across the state are properly supported by the whole community, not just the disability sector.”
Chief Executive Officer of Youth Affairs Council Victoria, Katherine Ellis says, “This resource is crucial to helping services understand the barriers that young people with disability face every single day.”
“Sometimes a very simple change can make their service much more accessible to a young person who needs it.”
YDAS co-designers, Stella and Bethany say sharing their own experiences of disability through the project helped them learn how to express themselves and communicate with others.
“We want to be treated as young people and not defined by our disability; we want to use the same services as everyone else,” Stella explains.
Bethany says, “I’ve learnt so much about myself and how I fit into society just by doing this job.”
“Now I think, how can I approach a situation as a person with disability to help people understand more about people with disability and make them more inclusive of people like me?”
YDAS recently delivered this training in person across the state, including rural and regional Victoria, in May and June.
The online resource is available here.