Making Geelong And The Bellarine More Accessible

Tourism businesses in Geelong and the Bellarine will be given the skills to make their businesses more accessible and fair with vital funding made possible by the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and Member for Geelong Christine Couzens today announced funding of $1.04 million from the Regional Skills Fund towards the ‘Improving the Accessibility of Geelong and the Bellarine’ project.

The Australian Federation of Disability Organisations will lead the $1.76 million project in partnership with Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarine, Deakin University, WorkSafe Victoria and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

The three-stage project will provide practical support for visitor economy businesses in the Greater Geelong region to welcome customers with a disability and recruit employees with a disability. Stage one involves information toolkits and workshops to inform businesses about the economic benefits of increasing the accessibility of their business and how to take the first steps to make a business more accessible.

In stage two, the AFDO will employ two diversity field officers to mentor 110 workplaces on ways to make their business more accessible to customers and employees with a disability. The field officers will also match people with a disability seeking employment to businesses seeking staff and provide ongoing support.

The project builds on the demonstrated success of a pilot phase in which businesses from across the broader Geelong economy were given assistance to make their business more accessible for people with a disability.

At the end of the pilot, 75 per cent of businesses were employing people with a disability (up from 38 percent) and 97 percent reported high satisfaction with the program.

Quote attributable to Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford

“This is all about giving people of all abilities the chance to visit this beautiful region, and for locals with a disability, a greater chance to work in this fast growing industry.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney

“Skills and training are vital for local communities, and a skilled workforce is what’s needed to support jobs and keep our regional economy strong – and the heart of this is opportunity and equality for all.” 

Quote attributable to Member for Geelong Christine Couzens

“It will now mean people with a disability will be able to experience more of Geelong and the Bellarine and have access to employment opportunities and local businesses can access training and mentoring to make their business more accessible.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bellarine Lisa Neville

“This important project aims to increase the number of tourism businesses equipped to cater to people with a disability in our region so they too can benefit from the $8 billion people with a disability spend on tourism in Australia each year.”