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1 in 5 Aussies face disability challenges: Urgent call for Dignified Access in the workplace!

Jess Freeman • 29/05/2023

  • According to the Australian Network on Disability External Link (AND) over 4.4 million people in Australia have some form of disability. That's 1 in 5 people.
  • 17.8% of females and 17.6% of males in Australia have a disability.
  • A disability is any condition that restricts a person’s mental, sensory or mobility functions. It may be caused by accident, trauma, genetics or disease. A disability may be temporary or permanent, total or partial, lifelong or acquired, visible or invisible.
  • Dignified access in the workplace ensures equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities, fostering a more inclusive and diverse work environment.

Cushman & Wakefield, a leading global real estate services firm, is taking significant steps to champion dignified access in the workplace with the release of a comprehensive white paper and accompanying checklist, working alongside Sam Bloom - Bestselling author, global keynote speaker, 2 x World Para Surfing champion and inspiration behind global hit movie Penguin Bloom to shed light on this important issue.

This initiative reaffirms Cushman & Wakefield’s commitment to creating inclusive and accessible environments for all individuals.

The white paper, titled "Dignified Access: Paving the Way for an Inclusive Workplace" addresses the critical importance of providing equal access to individuals with disabilities or special needs. It highlights the numerous benefits of ensuring a barrier-free workplace, including enhanced productivity, employee satisfaction, and the ability to attract and retain diverse talent.

Recognising that organisations often face challenges in identifying and implementing accessibility measures, Cushman & Wakefield's white paper offers practical insights and best practices. It explores key considerations such as physical accessibility, digital inclusivity, and accommodations for neurodivergent individuals, among others. By shedding light on these topics, the white paper aims to inspire and guide businesses in fostering inclusive environments that value the diverse abilities of their workforce.

To complement the white paper, Cushman & Wakefield together with Sam Bloom, have developed a comprehensive checklist that provides a step-by-step framework for organisations to evaluate their current accessibility practices and make necessary improvements.

The checklist covers a wide range of areas, including building infrastructure from common areas to parking and emergency evacuation, to technology, communication, policies, training and awareness. By utilising this tool, businesses can proactively address potential barriers and promote equal access for all employees.

Some of the areas that Cushman & Wakefield believe companies should focus on to achieve dignified access include entry to and from a building, movement around an office space, tailored lighting solutions, visual supports, controlling noise levels, assistive technologies and inclusive HR practices.

"Promoting dignified access is not just a legal or moral obligation; it is a fundamental aspect of building a truly inclusive and equitable workplace," said Maria Russo-Fama - Director of Client Services, Project & Development Services at Cushman & Wakefield.

"We believe that every individual deserves the opportunity to thrive and contribute, regardless of their abilities. By sharing our knowledge and resources through this white paper and checklist, we aim to empower organisations worldwide to create accessible environments that celebrate diversity and enable everyone to reach their full potential."

Sam Bloom said “As we journey towards a more inclusive future, it's crucial to listen, learn, and adapt. By continuously evaluating and improving workplace practices, guided by feedback and evolving best practices in disability inclusion, we pave the way for a world where every person can thrive and contribute their unique talents. Progress comes from a commitment to growth, and together, we can build a truly inclusive society” she said.

Furthermore, for the second consecutive year, Cushman & Wakefield is celebrating its partnership as the Access and Inclusion partner of Wild Lights at Taronga Zoo, External Link a location of the Vivid Sydney Festival. As part of their vision to ensure all visitors can participate and engage with Wild Lights, Cushman & Wakefield will be unveiling an inclusive artwork, co-created by First Nations Artist Nathan Peckham and the children of St Lucy’s, a special education school in Wahroonga, Sydney.

To celebrate inclusion and ensure children with disability, their families and cares can access Wild Lights, Taronga will be hosting not one, but two nights of Inclusion this year, presented by Cushman & Wakefield.

Due to the tremendous success and demand from Cushman & Wakefield’s 2022 inclusive event, Wild Lights will welcome up to 6,000 visitors over two nights on Wednesday 31 May and Wednesday 7 June from community groups, special needs schools, disability associations, inclusive sporting clubs, and special needs parenting groups to attend the much-loved Wild Lights at Taronga, via complimentary tickets.

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