Policy Submission: Strategic Infrastructure Plan for South Australia 2010 Community Consultation
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The purpose of this submission is to highlight ways in which the Strategic Infrastructure Plan for South Australia can reflect the perspectives and experiences of people living with disability in the evolving design of the South Australian community. This will ensure that the plan for infrastructure is achieved in a manner which supports active citizenhood and lifestyle choice.
The Julia Farr Association believes that the present consultation process facilitating input about the update of the Strategic Infrastructure Plan for South Australia provides a timely and potent opportunity to ensure that the plan reflects current issues impacting on the lives of South Australians who are living with disability.
Since the development of South Australia’s first infrastructure plan, released in 2005, there has been a growing national emphasis on upholding the choice, dignity and rights of people living with disability in the opportunities that we provide for them to achieve and participate in the community as active citizens. The social context for providing accessible, inclusive infrastructure has changed significantly and needs to become fundamental to the development of future assets.
In 2008 the Australian Government ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls for measures to be put in place to ensure that people living with disability can fully participate and be included within society. There is also a strong commitment to address the barriers that are faced by Australians living with disability and to promote social inclusion reflected throughout the Draft National Disability Strategy.
Infrastructure developments are an integral part of how people living with disability access and are included within society. Therefore the present consultation process provides a timely opportunity to focus on what it takes to design a community which is truly inclusive of people living with disability and which enables all of us to live as independently as we choose and with enjoyment and fulfilment.
As most infrastructure investments have high capital costs and long asset lives they can positively or negatively impact on community access and inclusion for a very long time. Therefore it is critical that the infrastructure plans and briefs be developed from the outset in a manner that begins with the principles of access and inclusion rather than trying to incorporate or tack this on as an afterthought. It is no longer socially or morally acceptable to exclude members of our community on a cost/benefit analysis. The Disability Discrimination Act also has legal implications for poor infrastructure planning.
Through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the COAG approved National Disability Strategy, and the current work being undertaken by the Productivity Commission and the South Australian Social Inclusion Board, there is a long-overdue focus on the rights and responsibilities of people living with disability and their valued places in the heart of our communities. We now have the policies in place to uphold the rights of people living with disability. Infrastructure plays a critical role in the development of a community that is equipped to make the opportunities that other people enjoy accessible to people living with disability. We welcome this opportunity to contribute the disability perspective to the Strategic Infrastructure Plan for South Australia and are happy to comment further on any of the points we have made in this submission.