This month we caught up with Michael Taggart, Inclusion Project Officer at City of Salisbury about his role, the Community Managers Network and what he's been working on.
What is your role and what does it entail?
I am the City of Salisbury’s Inclusion Project Officer responsible for the development of Council’s Disability Access and Inclusion Plan (DAIP). The DAIP is mandated by the Disability Inclusion Act 2018 (SA). Council’s DAIP is called the Ability Inclusion Strategic Plan” and with its implementation plan aims to include people living with disability across all population diversity in the design of every aspect of Local Government functions.
What is your career background?
I started in Local Government when the City of Salisbury was the first SA Council to appoint a specialist access and inclusion officer in October 1997. Before that I had been a systems advocate for people with disability in employment. I had been enrolled in a Ph.D. in political economy in the early 1980s when I transitioned from very low vision to total blindness between the 28 – 33 years and had to give up academic work. When computer screen readers were available from the mid-1980s I re-trained and had my first real job at age 38. Council has supported my participation in disability-related advisory bodies such as the SA Minister’s Disability Advisory Council (2007 – 2013) and the inaugural National Disability Insurance Scheme advisory Council (2013 – 2017).
You have been an engaged member of LG Professionals SA Community Managers Network for quite some time - Do you have a favourite moment you’d like to share?
With staff from the Cities of Onkaparinga, Playford and Tea Tree Gully I co-founded the LG Access and Inclusion Network (LGAIN) for staff with Disability Access and Inclusion Plan responsibilities. As the Network grew, we connected with the Community Managers Network (CMN) in 2014 and lobbied for disability inclusion to feature in the CMN’s strategic priorities. A favourite moment was the February 2017 Community Managers Network hosted symposium on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Local Government with 90 participants.
Do you have any exciting projects you’re currently working on?
One vital project is supporting Salisbury’s Corporate Learning and Development team as we roll out Disability Inclusion Awareness workshops provided by JFA Purple Orange to most employees in the next 2 years and coordinate some employees participation in universal design training in buildings, public realm and in communications such as Easy English writing and web accessibility. Another exciting project is developing guidelines to apply the principles of universal design in Council buildings and the public realm.
Finally, what do you like to do in your leisure time?
I enjoy recent music (rock, indy, First Nations rap) and love reading historical fiction and walking most days 3 – 4km with my wife Cathy and spending time with our two less than 1 year old grand-daughters Shiloh and Eleanor.