A city where everyone feels like they belong

I recently spoke at the launch of Brisbane’s City Council’s ‘A City for Everyone: Inclusive Brisbane’.   The plan outlines the Council’s commitment to ensuring that Brisbane is a place ‘where everyone feels like they belong’, a vision I strongly support.

In my address, I shared the story of Joe, a BHC resident whose story shows so clearly not only the value of inclusive design in affordable housing, but also the importance of a city that is ready to welcome its residents to participate fully in all aspects of city life.

Designing for everyone

Joe is a resident of BHC’s Jingeri development in Enoggera, in Brisbane’s inner north. Jingeri provides 10 units of purpose-built accommodation, designed for adults living with a disability. This building provides independent living, some for the very first time, for adults who have previously resided with their elderly parents.

Inclusive design means the world to Joe and other tenants like Joe. It can make the difference between whether they are sitting at home alone and isolated or whether they are out and about, making the most of what the city has on offer for them.

I shared with the audience, four key areas of design that have supported Joe’s transition to independent living.

  1. A city where people can move around safely and easily is critical.

Joe’s home is located adjacent to the Enoggera bus and rail exchange and having access to public transport that integrates seamlessly, is accessible and gets you home to your door is such an amazing benefit and one that opens the city up to you.  Joe doesn’t own a car, but he doesn’t need to.  Creating more travel options, accessible public transport and more paths to connect us to where we want to go is invaluable.

  1. We need more inclusive workforce

Engaging in work is something that Joe aspires to but until now hasn’t had that independence, the support or opportunity to do this.  Many of our tenants are marginalised from employment opportunities when in fact they have so much to contribute to the city’s economic life. Creating an inclusive employment market, that is capable of engaging people from all different backgrounds and work histories is not only good for Brisbane but provides people like Joe with an enhanced sense of identity self-worth and positive health benefits.

  1. Having appropriate housing typologies is crucial.

Joe’s home is purpose-built for people living with a disability, it’s architecturally designed, it’s beautiful, looks good on the street and blends in like any other modern apartment complex. Unfortunately, housing like Joe’s home is rare and we are always advocating for an increase in the diversity of housing solutions provided and of course, an increase in supply. As we know housing is the bedrock of everything.

  1. The importance of community.

Joe is a young man who is fiercely independent and has a wide group of friends. He wants to get out and connect
with others,explore the city and enjoy the bars, parks, galleries and the sunshine. This is what life is all about. It’s what we want for everyone in our community– to be able to get out simply and easily, to connect, enjoy and most of all feel a sense of “belonging” in this beautiful city.

Embracing inclusive design

Affordable, accessible housing is an essential hub that enables inclusion in all other aspects of life.

A city that embraces inclusion is a commitment we strongly welcome and one that will make a huge difference to the lives of all its residents.

We look forward to working together with the Brisbane City Council to support Brisbane’s continued development and growth into “A City for Everyone”.

Rebecca Oelkers
BHC – Chief Executive Officer