Food for thought: The Disability Inclusion Reference Committee

2 April, 2020

The Bendigo Regional Network met with the City of Greater Bendigo Council to learn how Council is improving access and inclusion in the region. The Network first met with Council last year, so this meeting was to continue the relationship and to learn about the Disability Inclusion Reference Committee (DIRC).

Nikki, Senior Inclusive Communities Officer, explained that the DIRC is made up of community members living with a disability, unpaid carers of people with a disability, and representatives from local disability-specific agencies. The person who leads the meeting is also someone with the lived experience. The DIRC provide general advice to Council to support greater social inclusion of people with a disability. They also assist Council to consider disability when developing policies and community projects.

One of the Network members, who is currently on the disability advisory committee at his local Council, encouraged local Bendigo members to apply for the DIRC when applications open. He said it is a great opportunity to share one’s lived experience with Council, to understand Council processes better, and to help improve access within the community.

You can see summaries of DIRC’s past meetings here.

Many people may see Councils as only about waste, roads, rates –however, the Network agreed that Council is more than that, and hope to be more involved with Council in the near future.

Nikki also provided resources (with links) on other ways Council is improving access:

These special keys enable people with disability to 24/ 7 access dedicated accessible toilets and facilities across Australia. All new buildings in Bendigo will have MLAK access. You will need to bring your own sling. The link has information on applying for a key, and where to find MLAK enabled facilities, which include Changing Places.

Located at Hargreaves Street Multi Storey car park

Council found that main issues of concern for their priority populations were all similar. They realised that making something accessible for one group, makes it accessible and beneficial for everyone else.

The website is a directory of inclusive businesses and towns who participated in the project. You can use search options to find a business that most benefits you (such as which cafes with accessible toilets or picture menu), inclusive employers or accessible accommodation options. 

The search options enable you to find parking that meets your needs. There are photos of the particular parking space, if parking fees are involved, ramp access, and hoist suitability.

There are many ways to make requests to the Council, including by email, live chat, phone or in person. Requests for disability access are prioritized.


For the rest of the afternoon at the Borough Club, the Network enjoyed lunch while sharing their experiences, meeting new members, and learning more about each other.

Details of our next event

Thursday, 09 Apr 2020

02:00 PM

Zoom, online

First online meeting, tips on managing health, Information Booklet, past and future activities

Spire at 9489 0777 (toll free 1800 999 128) or [email protected]

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