Finding ways to support Local Councils as agents for inclusion – what the “My Home My Community” project has discovered so far

Dr Phillippa Carnemolla1, Mr Jack Kelly1, Ms Catherine Donnelley1, Ms Aine Healy1

1University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

This research investigates the role Local Government plays as agents for inclusion for people with Intellectual disability.

The research aims to develop an understanding of how people with intellectual disability interact with their local government across its scope of responsibilities. We conducted 6 focus groups with people with intellectual disability (n: 45)  across 6 local governments in NSW and Vic including a mix of metropolitan, regional and rural. Locations are not disclosed due to ethical requirements.

We also interviewed access-inclusion representatives across the same 6 LGAs to understand the structures that support/hinder inclusion for people with intellectual disability.

The focus groups reveal the importance of places where people with intellectual disability feel safe, and can build relationships with local people. We discussed how people want to be communicated with and what information is important to them.  Participants were often not aware of the full range of services that local governments provide. The local library remains the most well-known space run by the local-government and it was described as an important safe community space by people with intellectual disability.

The interviews revealed that local councils don’t have access to up-to-date data about how many people live in their Local Government Area (LGA) with intellectual disability, or how that might compare to other LGAs. The organisational structures, budgets and roles that are dedicated to access and inclusion are unique to each LGA.

The results from this research will enable the UTS team to propose resources for local governments. These resources will be designed with people with intellectual disability within our diverse team.


Phillippa Carnemolla is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is interested in exploring what inclusive design and inclusive research really mean and how to do it well. At UTS, she works on projects that identify and remove barriers to inclusion in our workplaces, organisations, homes and cities. Phillippa is also an Industrial Designer.

Jack Kelly has worked in the disability research and advocacy sector since 2015, having worked with the Centre for Disability Studies (CDS) inclusive research network as a Research and Administration assistant. Jack currently holds positions at the Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) as a project worker and at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) as a research associate. Jack is passionate about advocating for the rights of people with intellectual disability, with a strong focus on good health care due to his own experience within the health care system.

Catherine Donnelley is currently working at UTS researching and co-designing a resource to support inclusive relations between community and Local Government Councils. Catherine is a trained Architect, teacher and Phd candidate (Sydney University) with focus on Collaborative design as a catalyst for systems change towards wholistic wellbeing.

Aine has a long history of working in partnership with people with disability, and combines those skills with strengths in network development, communications, campaigning, collaborative partnering with government and non-government agencies, and systemic advocacy on issues of importance to people with a disability and other community groups. She leads Ideas Info Action, is part of an inclusive research team at University of Technology Sydney and supports some grassroots movements with developing skills in community organising and campaigning. Aine likes to make things (info, organisations, processes, communities) inclusive. Find her on twitter: @ainehillbilly

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