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Deakin University has a strong commitment to creating an inclusive working and learning environment for its wonderfully diverse population of students and staff, and in so doing contribute to the harmony, respect and tolerance in the communities we serve.
Our aim is to contribute to positive change by providing quality higher education within a supportive teaching and learning framework.
The Deakin University Disability Action Plan 2012–2015 builds on the substantial work undertaken by the University since its first Disability Discrimination Act Action Plan was lodged in 2000. The Plan was developed in consultation with students and staff with disability, the Executive and the wider University community.
Using the AAA framework of Aspiration, Access (and experience), and Achievement outlined in the University's Widening Participation Plan, the Disability Action Plan recognises that genuine inclusion involves much more than physical accessibility and individual adjustments.
Becoming an inclusive organisation requires changes to the way we go about our day-to-day business: our planning and decision making must be informed; the way we design and deliver our courses and support services must involve consultation; how we communicate relevant research findings and deal with complex challenges, such as mental ill-health, must be sensitive, relevant and in language that people can understand. The overarching aim of the Plan is that people with disability will participate fully in the life of the University and will succeed on an equitable basis in their study or work.
We have taken many important steps to enhance the learning experience for students with disability but important challenges remain. We need to do more to support staff with disability and to further integrate inclusive approaches into mainstream policies and practices. Advances in the online environment have opened up opportunities for people with disability to access higher education but they also provide new accessibility challenges. We need to build the confidence and capacity of staff to teach and work together inclusively and grasp opportunities to share and develop knowledge and resources across the University and through partnerships with other organisations.
The new Disability Action Plan provides the roadmap for delivering on the commitments outlined in the University's agreement with the Australian Government to increase the participation of students with disability in higher education. Ultimate responsibility for the implementation of individual strategies rests with the Executive but the whole University community has an important role to play in building an inclusive culture.
This is a living plan and will be continually updated as we achieve important milestones and encounter new challenges. Thank you for your input to date. We welcome and rely on your feedback to progress this important work.
Professor Jane den Hollander
Vice-Chancellor, Deakin University