The City of Belmont, City of Kalamunda, City of Melville and Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale are among the Small Business Friendly local governments that support removing barriers for people with disability to visit local businesses, by promoting accessible businesses.
What does being accessible mean?
Being accessible means removing barriers for people living with disability or age-related mobility impairments, or living with dementia, to visit a premises.
Around one in six Australians (4.4 million people) live with a disability, while there are others who may have other access needs such as parents with prams or strollers.
By ensuring as few people as possible are excluded from a business venue, being accessible also helps open up wider markets for small businesses.
How are local governments supporting accessibility?
Western Australian local governments have a legislative requirement under the Disability Services Act 1993 to develop and implement a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP) which help them plan and implement improvements to access and inclusion for their organisations. However, many small business friendly local governments are going further by encouraging and supporting their local businesses to become more accessible.
City of Belmont
The City of Belmont officially launched its Accessible Business Program (ABP) on 15 June 2022. The aim of the ABP is to help businesses in the local government area to become accessible.
The program has a focus on creating supportive environments for all and meeting the needs of the entire population with its focus on four pillars:
- Make it easy for people to find me.
- Make it easy for people to get in.
- Make it easy for people to move around.
- Make the most of the team and customer service.
Interested businesses in the City of Belmont can register with the city to become an accredited program member, before undertaking education and venue assessment and implementing two recommendations the City identifies to make the business more accessible. ABP members can display a sticker at their business and be listed on the City’s website as a ‘Friendly for All’ business.
City of Kalamunda
The City of Kalamunda has developed a toolkit to assist local businesses become more accessible. The toolkit outlines ways for businesses to raise awareness amongst their staff and showcases easy ways to improve access. A Self-Checklist allows businesses to self-assess and identify areas for improvement, some of which require minimal expertise and investment. The Inclusive Kalamunda Social Inclusion Plan (2021-2025) and Accessible & Inclusive Business Guide are additional useful resources the City has developed as part of the toolkit.
City of Melville
The City of Melville has established the Melville Age-Friendly Business Accessible (MAFAB) network, for businesses committed to providing a supportive and inclusive experience for customers of all ages and abilities. Nearly a quarter of the City’s residents are aged over 60, compared to 19 per cent in greater Perth. The MAFAB program offers access to support, training, meetings with City of Melville staff and access to a community of local businesses to support their members to be age-friendly. The network has a particular interest in supporting people living with dementia.
Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale
The Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale also promotes ways for local businesses to improve access to their premises as best business practice. The Shire promotes resources from The Centre for Accessibility, Welcome – AccessWA and Carers WA, and has staff who are trained to discuss what becoming accessible means for businesses.
Benefits for local businesses
For local businesses, becoming accessible brings with it a range of benefits:
- Consumers are more likely to buy from a business that shows they care about people and the community.
- Community perception of a business may become more positive and providing good access can improve online reputation, generating free word-of-mouth advertising.
- Making a premises more accessible increases foot traffic and opens up access to a larger pool of potential customers and suppliers.
- Employees may also be attracted to work for accessible organisations if that aligns with their values or if they have, or are close to, someone with a disability.
- A range of financial support and government funded assistance is available to help businesses become more accessible and for employers to best accommodate workers living with disability in the workplace. Maxima works with the Federal Government through the Disability Employment Service (DES) to fund workplace modifications and services through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). Maxima may be able to provide these modifications and services at no cost to the employer or employee.
Benefits for customers
Establishing an accessible business increases autonomy for people with disability, allowing them to purchase products and services for themselves and others. This can also improve the experience for these customers.
- See more about the City of Belmont’s Accessible Business Program.
- Read about how the City of Kalamunda promotes accessible businesses.
- Learn about the City of Melville’s MAFAB network.
- Find out more about the resources the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale provide to local businesses to help them become more accessible.