The Catholic Archdiocese of Perth Administration Centre (CAPAC) recently held a Consultation Workshop with Agency Directors and staff to consider how they could develop a Disability Action and Inclusion Plan (DAIP).
Emmanuel Centre Coordinator and keynote presenter Barbara Harris asked participants to put themselves in the shoes of a person with a disability, before going on to think about their particular agency and the services it provides.
“What actions could their agency take in the short term, without too much difficulty, that would make access for people with a disability easier?” Mrs Harris questioned.
Mrs Harris suggested that when developing a DAIP agencies set themselves realistic goals to work towards each year that would help to improve access for all people.
Mrs Harris went on to ask that those in attendance consider accessibility in terms of welcoming people, rather than focussing on the Disability Act or Government Legislation.
“Because we are God’s people and we want to be the face of Jesus, making it easier for everyone to be involved in our agencies,” Mrs Harris said.
“It was about having an attitude of heart that aims to provide opportunities for people with different abilities to participate in our agency initiatives.”
While a DAIP does not solve all the difficulties encountered by people with a disability, developing one was a positive step towards inclusion.
The workshop concluded with a question written by Fr Paul Pitzen, who was unable to attend the workshop due to illness.
He asked participants to consider making a personal commitment to start the journey of having an Action Plan for a DAIP.
Mrs Harris offered to meet with any agency, parish or organisation who would like to consider implementing their own DAIP, and shared with participants that the gathering of agency personnel was an important and emotional occasion for her and Fr Paul.
She spoke about being asked by then Archbishop of Perth, Archbishop Goody, to be on a Committee for the International Year of the Disabled Person in 1981.
At the time Archbishop Goody posed the following question to that Committee, he asked, “What is the Church going to do for people with disabilities in 1981”.
Emmanuel Centre was the result of this question and over the following 37 years, has endeavoured to do all it could to enable people with different abilities to be part of the Church.
Manager Corporate Services, Julie Fuge, personally thanked Barbara Harris, Emmanuel Centre, Fr Paul Pitzen, Catholic Ministry with Deaf and Hard of Hearing People and Jacqueline Daisley, Identitywa who met regularly with her to develop the DAIP Template and resources.