Hansa Sailing sponsors Excellence in Inclusion Award

Reproduced from Shoalhaven Business Chamber website (as amended by s4e)

Hansa Sailing are sponsoring the Excellence in Inclusion Award in the Shoalhaven Business Chamber Awards.

The award will recognise an individual or business that addresses the needs of a diverse community, including seniors and people with disability.

Raising awareness of inclusion is important. An inclusive society facilitates the needs of all its members, and encourages participation by all in everyday activities.

It’s important to be aware that you can’t directly enter this Award. Instead, every business that enters our 16 ‘direct entry’ categories will answer a question about inclusion and have the chance to win this Award.

We spend five minutes with Chris Mitchell, Hansa Sailing, to ask about their involvement with the Business Awards and learn more about what an inclusive world looks like.

Why is Hansa Sailing sponsoring the Awards?

We are sponsoring the Excellence in Inclusion award because it gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of “Universal Design” (UD) and how it creates inclusiveness. UD actually applies to all architecture, including public and private building and the design of community programs and projects.

What is universal design?

Universal Design is a design philosophy based on the concept that all products, environments and communications should be designed to consider the needs of the widest possible array of users.

Tell us about UD at Hansa Sailing

Hansa design and build sailing boats, which are used around the world, can be handled by everyone, regardless of their ability, because they conform to the principles of UD.

This means that disabled people can sail our boats, in fact they have hijacked them and call them their own! But that’s not how we see it, as the best thing you can actually provide for the majority of disabled people, is to be simply included in everyday activities as an equal, not an oddity. And that’s what can happen when UD boats are used.

We want people to think about the ridiculous situation where one in five Australians has some sort of disability. But that ultimately becomes 5 in 5, as during our lives, people sustain injuries and sickness, which means temporary disability, and as we age, each of us heads down a path of disablement. So why do we not consider this, consider our futures, instead of routinely and almost arrogantly creating things that will ultimately cause levels of handicap and disadvantage for us all at some stage.

What does inclusion mean to you? 

Inclusion is not simply providing access to a marginalised individual or group, it is creating an environment where people’s differences are seen as part of the norm, rather than an oddity. I rather like this diagram, which provides a visual reference of what inclusion looks like.

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What are the best resources for businesses that want help or advice on how to be more inclusive?

Perfection in inclusion is unlikely to ever be everyone’s achievable goal, but there are many small alterations which improve access and comfort for particular minority groups. These are all steps in the right direction. The resource www.travability.travel is the benchmark for Inclusive Tourism, and tourism is about hospitality. This is the place to start, as providing physical access is one thing, but making people feel welcome is even more important. Shoalhaven City Council has several excellent publications on their website, including “Accessibility Guidelines” and “Increase Your Bu$iness Potential”. Or email us at [email protected] for a comprehensive list of resources.

Outside of the Shoalhaven, what’s the best example of an inclusive practice you’ve come across?

Our own Hansa Class World Championships are hard to beat. The event sees sailors from able bod to severe quadriplegic, across all levels of intellectual ability, from age 5 to 95, from around the world, compete in sailboats designed to accommodate everyone using universal rules, which make no reference to difference or disability. But that’s not homogenising, it’s individualising by enhancing people’s opportunities. See more about inclusion at our Sailing For Everyone blog www.s4e.org.

Why do you think it’s important that businesses in the Shoalhaven find opportunities to work together?

A living body is not just the sum of all its various atoms, elements and components – it has life. It is easy to list the fantastic attributes and attractions we have here in the Shoalhaven, but if we just see it as an economic zone, and pursue only our own immediate interest within that body, we are nothing more than a gear or cog within a machine.

The difference between the machine and a living body is that life force, and you won’t get far in articulating ‘”what is life” without also pondering “what is love?”. Do we want the Shoalhaven to be alive, to blossom and flower as it grows, to exude that indefinable feeling of home and wellbeing which makes us a community, and leaves visitors longing to return, and ultimately lubricates the gears so business can flourish?

Of course we do, we do all that already, but do we want to lift ourselves above the pack and be the best, the leader, a beacon? “Why not?” we say, and suggest it is an automatic progression if we can see the vision. The way to get there is to articulate the goal and consciously begin the journey; to find new ways to work together, to see ourselves as part of a better community, to be prepared to give more than we take, to try to include everyone. It’s about making the place better for all of us, which incidentally includes all the other living creatures we live with, because why aren’t they also vital beings within our world, within the greater universe?

Thanks to Hansa Sailing for sponsoring the Excellence in Inclusion award. Learn more about this Award here, enter the Awards here or download the Award Entry Information Pack to learn more.

The Awards will be presented on Friday 26th August.

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