Hear Gavin tell you why accessibility is important

Kempsey Shire Council

Gavin working in the Macleay Options store

We want everyone to be heard, seen and welcomed in our community. That’s why Kempsey Shire Council has developed a new Disability Inclusion Action Plan. With your help we can create a more inclusive and accessible community for people with disability, like Gavin.

Gavin has lived in the Macleay Valley all his life. While he has always had an intellectual disability, as he ages he’s also beginning to experience mobility challenges. Gavin has worked with Macleay Options for 39 years, and 20 years of those included doing the lawn maintenance contract for Nestle.

How can we create a community where we can better understand each other?

I feel that disability people should be given equal opportunity in the community – it should not be ‘us and them’. It would be nice if people were less judgmental.

What do you wish people better understood about your disability?

That we have feelings, and that we have just as much right as everyone else in the community. I wish they could spend a day in my life. It would be great if they could come to us and see what we actually do, then they might have a better understanding. Come up and talk to us – don’t just judge us. Don’t be shy to ask questions if you don’t understand.

Can you tell me about a time when someone took the time to talk and learn about your disability and what made that possible?

Personally, I’m not someone who tells everyone that I have a disability. I have had friends ask me, and they have been very understanding about the challenges and what life is like for me. An intellectual disability is invisible to a lot of people, and I am often mistaken for someone who doesn’t have a disability.

gavin with Paralympian ellie cole

What do you like about the Macleay Valley?

I enjoy going to South West Rocks and having a look around. It’s a nice place.

What are some of the small things that bring you joy each day?

I have animals and birds, and being part of the community means a lot to me. I used to be part of the local bird club. I enjoyed my time with the local volunteer fire brigade. While it was challenging, in the end I had to give it up because there wasn’t a role that could be adapted to cater to my disability. I have just begun working in Macleay Options’ Elbow Street store and am enjoying learning about retail and customer service.

What would help you live your best life?

People being more understanding and more accepting.

What do you wish people knew about your disability?

Before making an assumption about me, I wish they would just really try to get to know me. I wish they understood that we have a right to power and control of our own life and environment. As I get older walking is becoming more challenging, and I’m noticing the lack of wheelchair and mobility impaired access in the community. Even getting into shops can now be a challenge if there is no ramped or level access.

Our Disability Inclusion Action Plan

Council adopted its Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2022-2025 at the Ordinary Meeting on 17 May after extensive engagement with staff, key groups and the community.

The plan was launched by Paralympian Ellie Cole in Kempsey at an event on the morning of Thursday 26 May where staff were joined by community members with disability and disability advocates to hear Ellie talk about her life and achievements.

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