Making Maldon an inclusive town

Article image - Making Maldon an  inclusive town Support Officer Jessie Stone with Jamie Heffernan from Maldon Getaways, the first business to sign up to the Inclusive Towns Project

Mount Alexander Shire Council, Victoria, is working alongside the City of Greater Bendigo and Loddon Shire Council to make their towns more accessible to people with disabilities.

Inclusive Towns is a collaborative project funded through the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building National Readiness Grants program.

The program aims to improve inclusion in rural communities and raise awareness of the purchasing power that people with disabilities have within the community.

Inclusive Towns Project Officer, Alison Jones, said, “Inclusive businesses are smart businesses, and are businesses that make more money.

“We are working with accommodation providers, retailers, tourist destinations and cafés to improve accessibility of businesses and promote inclusion, so that people with a disability feel welcomed and valued within their community.”

The project employs six Support Officers - local people with a disability - who visit each business and develop an action plan of simple and inexpensive changes the business can make to be more inclusive.

In the historic town of Maldon 19 businesses have signed up to the Inclusive Towns project.

Support Officer, David Stratton, said, “Maldon is a beautiful town that people flock to, and that even more people will flock to when they understand that it is inclusive.

“Some of the things we are suggesting can be as simple as putting a sign in the window with the phone number on it, or purchasing an inexpensive portable ramp for shops with steps.”

Maldon Getaways was the first business in Maldon to sign up to the project.

Maldon Getaways, Jamie Heffernan, said, “The team gave me some ideas around making our accommodation options more accessible, with links and suppliers for inclusive supports we could purchase that could be used in several of our holiday homes.

“Everyone should be able to have a holiday in Maldon, it’s a great town! As accessible accommodation in town is very limited, it makes good business sense for Maldon Getaways to have lots of options, and to provide a range of inclusive supports that can meet a wide variety of needs.