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Winners of the 2017 "Best Accessible Business" Award, Sponsored by the NDIS.

Our ethos is simple; to inspire people to do the things that inspire them, so that together we can work towards a more welcoming and inclusive world. It is a basic human right to be afforded the same opportunities and access as anyone else. But this is so often not the case.

Whilst we provide high quality, person-centered support and accommodation options to individuals with disabilities, their families and circles of support within their community, we are fully aware that there is a more urgent and necessary task within the disability community. And that is to inspire others to fully consider the benefits of accessibility and inclusion within their own businesses, in their private friendship circles and in their social groups. Inclusion benefits everyone. This message, & our commitment to corporate social responsibility and advocacy work across the State of Victoria saw Great Ocean Stays winning a business excellence award sponsored by the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).

Disability is not in your face unless you are living it. Unless you are in it, living in an inaccessible world. Living in a world where perception of disability often overrides what disability really means. And what comes up time and time again? Attitude. The attitude of access and inclusion is not a favor. It is not worthy of a pat on the back to the cafe owner who replaces two entrance steps with ramp. Whilst it is great there is a ramp, it is a basic human right to be able to access public places and spaces, just like an able bodied person.

Attitude presents itself in many forms, sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face like a whack that breaks your day apart.

"You are too beautiful to be in that wheelchair" , "I don't like to call you disabled, I prefer to call you differently-abled", "We are wheelchair accessible, just will just need someone to lift you over a couple of steps to get in then you'll be right", "you're not disabled, I can't see anything wrong with you".

Attitude is everything! And whilst we have beautifully appointed, seamlessly accessible homes that are not clinical in feel, we know all too well that if we didn't fully understand disability and accessibility, we would have failed from the get go. I was unfortunately

afforded my very own experience of being in an accessible place, but with a terribly bad attitude of the staff that clearly showed me that you cannot have one without the other. Having facial paralysis means I need a straw to drink. I went into a lovely local cafe for a coffee. It was accessible (even though I didn't need that, I still notice these things, as do all in the disability sector), and was enjoying my coffee with a straw. When out of the blue, the owner of the cafe came from behind the counter and stood at my table, pointed at my coffee/straw combo, and said 'what's this, some sort of religious experiment you are trying out?"

Whilst it was actually none of his business why I had a straw, he failed to realise that his ableism, lack of foresight and pure rudeness resulted in me gracing the cafe up the road for my coffees from that day on. That was 6 years ago. I calculate he has lost $8,000 or more in lost coffees from me because of his attitude.

But what a lesson this was for me. Attitude is everything. And we are so humbled to have been recognised by for our Accessible Business, not only for the tangible credibility we provide with our wheelchair accessible range of homes, but with our commitment to listen to our participants and their requiements, to provide a safe environment which is person-centered and improves the liveability of those who stay with us. Thank you NDIS, and thank you Geelong Business Excellence Awards.

Team Tourism Welcomes You. Pic Di Nelson, Roger Grant, Chris & Andrew Smith, & Brett Ince.

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