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Busselton councillor leads the way for inclusion

A chance Facebook encounter has led City of Busselton Councillor Ross Paine becoming a better human after he attended a 2 Wise Monkeys Access in Practice workshop in Busselton recently. Ross saw a Facebook post advertising the workshop and thought it would be something he would be interested in. As an active cyclist, Ross has a passion for ensuring safe access infrastructure is available for everyone. “Obviously I’m on the council so I have a vested interest in community infrastructure, but I’m also an active cyclist so I have a personal interest in the availability and condition of bike paths and footpaths,” Ross says. “Before the 2 Wise Monkeys workshop, I thought a lot about accessibility with regards to cycling. However, it’s obvious that quality infrastructure, like bike paths and footpaths, is a more holistic issue concerning the wider community, particularly those people with an impairment or disability.” Ross says concerns such as uneven footpaths, people parking their cars blocking access and paths that don’t connect end-to-end are just a handful of issues cyclists face every day. “But for me, I can just jump off my bike and walk around whatever the issue is in front of me. There are a lot of people who can’t – elderly people, people with prams, young children and, of course, those with a disability.” Hosted by 30 Foot Drop founder Ben Aldridge, 2 Wise Monkeys are a series of workshops designed to break down society’s bias around people with disability. The workshops are designed to be open, honest and, importantly, fun sessions that challenge stereotypes and provide an insight into the lives of people with a disability. “It was a unique workshop, not just in terms of delivery and the practical elements, but we the participants set the pace,” Ross says. “Ben was very generous with his time. We were allowed to ask as many questions as we liked and stop and discuss certain topics for longer. It was a really engaging two-way conversation.” “Through life you accumulate all these questions that you’ve always wanted to ask, but it would be taboo to go up to the nearest disabled person and say ‘hey, what’s this like?’. But when you are in a safe space, like the 2 Wise Monkeys workshop, these questions aren’t off the table and you can explore the things you really want to understand.” Ross admits he’s already looking at attending the upcoming three part Tapping In workshops that are happening in Busselton from 28 May – 11 June. He’s also recommended the sessions to his fellow City of Busselton colleagues. “I think a lot about how I can do my job better as a Councillor to help the community. To do that, I need to understand what it is people from all demographics, backgrounds and abilities require. Ben’s 2 Wise Monkeys workshops help that process.” Ben will be bringing his 2 Wise Monkeys workshops to Bunbury next, before heading to Capel, Bridgetown, Collie and back to Busselton.

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