The annual Gold Coast Inclusive Communities Expo event kicked off on September 13 at the newly built Leisure and Sports Centre in Carrara, as part of National Disability Action Week.
Held from Sunday 10th to Saturday 16th September, the theme for 2017 is ‘Everybody has a role to play’, an initiative that encourages communities and businesses across Australia to create a welcoming space for individuals, with the ultimate goal of complete inclusion.
Free entry, free entertainment and a free forum on the NDIS were just a few of the activities for the local community to get involved in, all while gaining valuable knowledge about the services available on the coast with the added bonus of a free sausage sizzle.
Team Leader at Carers Australia and MC of the expo, Max Vardanega, spoke about the importance of inclusion in the community and explained how each of the service providers on the Gold Coast are working towards an inclusive society.
“The Gold Coast Inclusive Communities Expo is an inter-agency cooperation between upwards of thirty organisations who are focused on the idea of inclusion,” Mr Vardanega said.
“We are here to make it clear that services need to cater for everyone because everyone is the target market and that families and individuals coping with various impairments is the standard. It’s not anything unusual, in fact that’s just the way the world.”
From one end to the other, colourful stalls lined the room , manned by staff who handed out giveaway bags and valuable information to community members.
Sarah Hickey of Centacare Learning and Leisure Community Services Group stall was more than happy to stop, have a chat and answer questions about the services their company provides.
“We provide community access to individuals and assist in whatever goal that person is trying to reach. We’re not a respite service, we’re a transitional program,” she said.
“When you visit us at our company you won’t come into an office, we’ll come to you in the community at the library, the coffee shop, wherever.
“The whole aim is to help everyone to feel inclusive and confident in society. That’s why we work out and about in the community and not confined to an office.”