Colleen and Sibbo are colleagues on the Townsville Inclusive Community Advisory Committee. Colleen is a City Councillor and Sibbo works for Townsville Multicultural Support Group. Townsville hit the news not so long a go with images of blue mats being laid out down ‘The Strand’, the iconic Townsville beach, making it wheelchair accessible. That was the work of the Committee and both Sibbo and Colleen speak passionately about inclusion and why it is so important.
“I think inclusion works for everybody because we are one community. And there’s unity in community.” says Colleen. “We are united, we work together, we look at the problems and we solve them as a united group.”
She talks positively about the various initiatives Council has been involved in:
“The impact on Council, when we actively engage with the broader community, is that we get a richness and a diversity that comes into Council. So we become a far more open community, and as an organisation we get more skills.”
Sibbo then adds:
“Inclusion means a lot to me. It also means practical actions. It’s not just to say we promote inclusion and multiculturalism. You know it’s not just words. It needs concrete actions, to see people getting involved and participating in different things. It involves social transformation: How people participate in sports clubs? How people participate in creating jobs? How people are getting involved in decision making?”.
The interview is conducted in Corcoran Park, a park in Colleen’s Division. Right now it is still a bit of a mess, but there are interesting things happening. We can see some accessible playground equipment; there is an accessible sandpit and accessible water fountains.
“It’s a park leading the way in terms of creating inclusive environments for our whole community. We’ve really tried to think about how people access the park. How do they get out of their car and into the park? How they get around the park and how they play in the park?"
While we are there, a couple of kids are using the play equipment. A dad, recognising Coleen, comes up and provides some good feedback and has a few suggestions for improvement. Like Sibbo said, inclusion also means taking part.
I acknowledge that my work is conducted on the land of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future, for they hold the memories, traditions, Cultures and aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Sovereignty was never ceded.