On Friday 23rd October, Sarah Houboult travelled to Tamworth to facilitate a full day of Disability Awareness and Disability Action Plan training. 14 people attended the training day and came from a broad sector of the community including the curator of Moree Plains Gallery, New England Conservatorium of Music, Tamworth Conservatorium of Music, Gunnedah Conservatorium, Tamworth Cultural Development Officer, General Manager of Glen Industries, Armidale Councilor, Curator of Tamworth Cultural Showcase, Website developer, Music therapist.
In the morning sessions participants learnt about the legal and cultural definition of disability, the realities of disability experience and the challenges and opportunities around communicating with people with disability. Through slide shows and several group activities the participants developed a greater understanding of disability and language around disability.
“Understanding the history and background to people living with disabilities and how this influences their experience in the present day.” workshop participant.
After a short break for lunch Sarah presented a detailed session on developing a Disability Action Plan which included the process to go through and things to think about to get the plan started for an organization.
In the afternoon session the participants worked in small groups to discuss and develop the bones of a Disability Action Plan, these ideas were then brought back to the whole group for a discussion. At the end of the day the participants had a template to take away to begin to develop their own action plans.
“This training really helped me understand so much. I would be happy to attend a follow up " advanced" training day.” workshop participant.
A common theme from the groups was the importance of having an annual community forum in the North West as a way of networking, project updates, sharing information about latest technologies and as an ongoing conversation into issues around Disability Awareness. All of the participants requested to be sent some Disability Action Plan samples from other arts organisations to assist them in the development of their own plans.
One of the most important aspects of these regional training days is the fact that they allow networking between the various community organisations to occur and a sharing of ideas and successful projects that reaffirm the progress made within the regional areas. People often travel quite a way to attend these sessions and may not have many opportunities to connect within their community or with other community organisations on a regular basis.