Media releases

Victorian Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford, and Member for Geelong, Christine Couzens today announced funding of $1.04 million from the Victorian Government to further the work of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO) to increase the accessibility and employability readiness of Geelong & Bellarine businesses, a growth area, primed for increased visitation and accessible tourism.

AFDO will head the two year project totalling $1.76 million, in partnership with Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine, Deakin University, WorkSafe Victoria and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

The funding will extend the reach of AFDO’s Diversity Field Officer Service, the first tertiary research-backed initiative of its kind in Australia. It provides practical strategies for small and medium sized businesses to improve accessibility, remove barriers to employ and retain people who have, or acquire a disability, creating more welcoming destinations and customer experiences.

This project will engage 110 workplaces across the region, with businesses receiving tailored support, access to expert workshops, culminating in a comprehensive marketing campaign led by Tourism Greater Geelong and The Bellarine to promote the region as Australia’s leading accessible travel destination.

‘This funding recognises the expertise of AFDO as the leading national peak organisation representing the needs and aspirations of people with disability as well as our proven ability to build the capacity of small and medium businesses, demonstrated over the last three years in our work with 60 businesses in this unique region’, said Ross Joyce, CEO of AFDO.

‘We are excited to work with our project partners to significantly increase the accessibility of the Geelong and the Bellarine, so that it can serve as a model for other regions across Australia of the real benefits of accessible tourism. We will also  showcase the long overlooked skills, creative thinking and resilience that people with disability can bring to every workforce’, said Mr Joyce.

For more information please contact Mr Ross Joyce on 0402 842 040.