Media Release: October 2022
ACOLA puts words into action on disability responsiveness
Some of Australia’s leading academics have applied their research results closer to home with the adoption of six key principles and five key areas for action on disability inclusiveness.
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) put four professional sectors under the microscope in the Australian Government-supported study, including education, healthcare, justice and social services.
ACOLA Chief Executive Officer, Ryan Winn said the organisation had developed its own plan to implement the report within its community, which includes the Academies of Social Sciences, Health and Medical Sciences, Humanities, Science, and Technology and Engineering.
“We acknowledge that there is no single solution or action to improve disability responsiveness and ongoing effort is needed,” Mr Winn said.
“Changes to processes, culture, resources and leadership are needed, along with training. Actions and priorities must be developed in collaboration with people with disability.”
Mr Winn said the study, completed under the Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031, outlined five key areas for action: training of university and VET staff, mandatory refresher training for workers, improved training standards, increased co-design and delivery of courses with people with disability, and sector specific action plans.
“ACOLA brings together great minds, broad perspectives and knowledge for cutting edge thinking to solve key issues for the benefit of Australia,” he said.
“Applying our findings to our own interactions with clients, staff and members of the Learned Academies is one of the key ways we can do our bit to improve disability responsiveness.”
ACOLA has committed to:
- Increasing the diversity of the Fellows, including people with disability, and exploring ways ACOLA and the Academies can be preferred and inclusive employers.
- Engaging with people with disability during policy development to reinforce the principle of ‘nothing about us without us’.
- Empowering and supporting staff to identify and report any negative behaviours seen within the organisations and to undertake relevant training to support needs.
- Advocating that Fellows consider how the Good Practice Guide can be implemented in education and training within their professional environment.
- Encouraging ACOLA and Academy staff to undertake disability responsiveness training, including understanding the intersection of disability with other personal attributes, such as, but not limited to, gender, race and sexuality.
- Encouraging the development of industry-specific resources, knowledge and tools.
- Promoting the project findings and suggesting ways governments can continue to increase knowledge of and progress toward a disability-responsive society.
- Improving the accessibility of work outputs for people with disability.
- Increasing awareness of human rights by design in products, services and technologies, and assisting governments, industry and society in understanding and “safeguarding” technology.
- Engaging with government on ways to support action, both as leaders and major employers of workers in the health, justice, education and social service sectors.
ACOLA encourages all stakeholders, including governments and industry, especially in the education and training sector, to consider the report’s findings and develop their own response and action plan.
A copy of the Project’s full report, including the Good Practice Guide for Training and Action Plan, a summary report, easy read summary and Auslan translation, can be found at https://acola.org/disability-responsiveness/.
Australia’s five Learned Academies provide independent, authoritative and influential research-based advice across research domains, build public awareness and understanding of research, and champion, celebrate and support excellence in Australian research and innovation. The Academies are:
- Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
- Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
- Australian Academy of the Humanities
- Australian Academy of Science
- Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
ACOLA is the forum whereby Australia’s Learned Academies come together to contribute expert advice to inform national policy; and to develop innovative solutions to complex global problems and emerging national needs.
This study was funded by the Australian Government as part of Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031.