Planning inclusive communities begins with asking the right questions. For example: What makes an inclusive community? What stops communities being inclusive? When we say community, what do we mean? And what does inclusive mean?
Lisa Stafford’s research project sought to answer those questions and more. Her research heard from 97 people aged from 9 to 92 years. Some had a disability or long term health condition, and others were their family members or allies. The findings are presented in a reader friendly format rather than an academic article.
Findings from Stage 1
The thoughts and experiences from participants with and without disability shared many aspects in common. Here are some of the points in brief.
An inclusive community is about people where everyone is valued and belongs. Everyone is valued and respected regardless of their culture or background. That means communities must be planned for all people – built for equity, fairness and accessibility. Inclusive communities are happy places where people have choices and safe spaces to have fun and socialise. So how do we make it happen?
The answer is planning together from the very beginning. People with disability, diverse groups, government and urban planning practitioners should all be involved.
The Planning Inclusive Communities website explains the project in plain language with lots of graphics. There is also a link to an Easy English explanation of the project. The video below also gives an overview.
The title of the full report is What Makes Inclusive Communities? Meanings, Tensions, Change Needed and is downloadable in Word. It gives more detail about the background to the research and the findings.
Stage 2 of this research project will identify people who want to help make change and create a plan for inclusive communities.
Here is a quote from the website that has more information.
“I feel like it’s all about everyone being able to equally engage in the environment in the community. For people with disabilities there is a lot of restraint and they can’t engage as much as other people. It’s also like equality is not enough, it should be equity so everyone has what they need to be able to engage in that community. Because I feel like a community is about people and engagement, but also being able to access and work around a community.”