True community inclusion requires greater engagement

30 Nov 2016

Gabrielle Gwyther
General Manager Service Planning and Communication

Community inclusion and participation for people with a disability is a foundation stone of the NDIS. Yet inclusion and participation is often represented as the responsibility of the person with the disability, or their carers and support providers.

True community inclusion, however, requires that people without a disability understand their role in ensuring people with a disability feel comfortable in the range of community settings, feel a sense of belonging and are able to take advantage of opportunities.

That is one of the reasons why a few years ago The Junction Works developed an opportunity for a group of Year 10 Students from Holsworthy High School to volunteer at our annual SPARK Festival for people with an intellectual disability in a project we call SPARK Experience: Youth Engagement.

The Junction Works is a ‘for purpose’ organisation with thirty years of experience delivering disability, community, youth and children’s services within South West Sydney.  As a multi-sector service provider, one of our strengths is our ability to integrate mainstream and disability services in the provision of opportunities that enhance community integration for people with a disability.

SPARK is a residential arts festival produced by The Junction Works annually since 2004. The festival attracts around 250 participants each year from around NSW.

SPARK Experience: Youth Engagement is a service learning opportunity where TJW youth workers support a group of young people to involve themselves in the SPARK Festival and to socialise with and assist festival participants to get the most out of their SPARK experience.

Festival participants enjoy the camaraderie of the young people and the sense of belonging that is achieved over the four days. For the young people, it is a time to develop a more mature, informed understanding of disability, of the diversity of people who live with disability, and their own prejudices about difference.

One of our motivations for highlighting SPARK Experience: Youth Engagement is to argue that the future of disability services under NDIS is about mainstreaming them as far as possible. The next wave of disability support employees need to embrace the notion that increasing community inclusion and participation by people with an intellectual disability needs to go far beyond physical accessibility towards a community that is knowledgeable and supportive of disability, and that getting to that point requires creative effort and community engagement.

To find out more about the young people’s experience at SPARK 2016, check out our short VIDEO HERE.

Gabrielle Gwyther
General Manager Service Planning and Communication
The Junction Works
Ph: 02 8777 0500
"Creating New Possibilities in People's Lives"

Our mission drives our determination to generate more opportunities for people with a disability, and to improve the lives of people experiencing hardship and disadvantage.