A new program designed to shift perceptions of disability is being rolled out across the west.

Footscray-based employment service WCIG last week launched DARE (Disability Aware and Ready to Engage), a new disability awareness training program aiming to improve inclusion for people living with disability.

Program co-ordinator Karen Gill said the free training program, funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), was designed by a steering committee of people with experience of disability.

“It’s really important that people living with disability have a say in what’s spoken about them and how to create these diverse communities,” she said.

“It’s not just about access to buildings or a ramp so it’s been really great to have input from people about the needs in their world and their day-to-day lived experience.”

Training streams have been tailored to cater to interested individuals, community groups, businesses and clubs.

Training is available both online and offline and those who complete the training are awarded DARE signage showing their business or group is “Disability Aware and Ready to Engage”.

WCIG board chairman Frank Carlus said the DARE training reflects WCIG’s view that people with disabilities must be able to access all parts of the community freely and without barriers.

Disability advocates Kerry Forbes and Simon Palmer said they had enjoyed being on the steering committee and looked forward to seeing the changes the training will make in the community.

Victorian Multicultural Commissioner Sisay Dinku, Maribyrnong mayor Cuc Lam and guests from community groups and businesses attended last Tuesday’s launch.

Councillor Lam said there was still work to do for people living with disability to feel free from discrimination.

“WCIG will tackle these issues through the DARE to be disability friendly program.”