Marlene Miller is a proud western Sydney mum of two children with severe autism.
After dealing with the barriers of accessing assistance for her kids as they navigated adolescence – all while managing her own serious health concerns, Marlene is now able to rattle off a stream of accomplishments that her children, Michael and Lauren, have already managed as young adults.
Marlene and her family’s story was a touching highlight of the recent launch of Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD)’s first Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), and speaks to the foundations of the plan: empowerment and respect.
The DIAP sets out specific actions to be undertaken across the district to support equitable access to services and employment for people with disability in western Sydney.
The plan is split into four pillars:
- Promoting a positive attitude and behaviour regarding disability inclusion
- Creating liveable communities for people with disability
- Providing equitable systems and processes
- Supporting access to meaningful employment opportunities
“The DIAP is a really critical part of who we are as an organisation and as a district,” WSLHD Chief Executive Graeme Loy said.
“To have a plan about how we get inclusivity working better is a key part of who we are and what we do. It’s important that this becomes a launching pad for us into the future.
“The greatest measure that I had in any workplace I’ve been in about how culture works is when parents allow their children to come work with us. If someone says that place is safe enough for my children to work in, I know we’ve done a great job.
“What I’m looking for with this plan is not just for people with lived experience with disability to want to work here, but for their families to say this is a great place for my family to work.”
This sentiment was echoed by Acting District Allied Health Director, Bobbi Henao Urrego, who added that the DIAP is a living document and the aim is to continuously meet the needs of the community as they emerge.
“The DIAP is a hard copy document, but we know that life is ever changing and so this is just the starting platform,” she said.
“We know that things will change from here and we will continue to adapt and grow as we need to.”
For Marlene, the DIAP is an important investment in the skills and independence of people living with disability.
“These children and adults who deal with disability everyday need to be respected and given the chance to find their way in the community, like looking for work and having the life we take for granted,” she said.
“Give them a life. Give them a chance to have that freedom – they have so much to offer. Let them shine because they deserve it.”
To view a copy of the WSLHD Disability Inclusion Action Plan, please click here.