Springwood businesses lead way in helping customers with 'invisible' disabilities

Springwood businesses are leading the way in helping customers with "invisible" disabilities by taking part in a groundbreaking initiative that could eventually be adopted nationally.

New initiative: Springwood IGA Supermarket store manager Neale Pearce with Dr Annie Brennan, Disability Inclusion Ambassador at DARE Disability Support.

New initiative: Springwood IGA Supermarket store manager Neale Pearce with Dr Annie Brennan, Disability Inclusion Ambassador at DARE Disability Support.

DARE Disability Support has launched the project, titled "Are You Inclusive?", in partnership with the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise and Blue Mountains City Council.

Businesses who take part will receive free training so they can help customers with "invisible" disabilities like intellectual disability or autism.

"It's a new and unique program, and we're starting it in Springwood first to get feedback on it... before we roll it out across the Mountains and Nepean," said Dr Annie Brennan, Disability Inclusion Ambassador at DARE Disability Support.

"We'd love feedback from businesses and the general community, to ensure it is a right fit for everyone."

Springwood IGA Supermarket is one of the businesses which has already signed up, with store manger Neal Pearce saying he has been very impressed by the quality of the training.

"I think for our staff it will be a very useful tool. We will definitely use it as part of our induction for new staff... You will just be better for it."

Business that have 50 per cent of their current staff complete the training, as well as any new staff, receive access to other resources including a sticker and logo they can use to promote their involvement.

Jillian Williams from Springwood Taxis said the "project provides a simple and effective means of assisting our personnel to meet the high level of respect that we require for our business".

"It has been a pleasure in contributing to the development of the program," she said.

President of the Springwood and District Chamber of Commerce, Ellissa Nolan, has also backed the project.

"Joining the 'Are You Inclusive?' initiative has helped me understand the needs of people living with disabilities and has also improved the way I communicate with clients in my own pilates business," she said.

"I highly recommend all retailers and business owners in the Blue Mountains get involved with this great initiative. You and your staff will learn how to be more inclusive serving people with visible and invisible disabilities in our community."

Amanda Rogers from Springwood Aquatic and Fitness Centre said: "Our centre is only complete when everybody is included."

The program has been developed in consultation with people with disability, their families and support workers, and local businesses and services. For more details contact Dr Annie Brennan on 0414 835 831 or 4751 9041, visit www.areyouinclusive.com.au, or follow: www.facebook.com/areyouinclusive.