A PROGRAM on the Mornington Peninsula is aiming to raise awareness of the wide spectrum of peoples’ disabilities and to increase empathy and understanding for those living with a hidden disability.
Living with a hidden disability or condition can make daily life difficult, it can also be hard for others to understand the challenges that people with hidden disability or conditions face.
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower is a symbol that people can wear to discreetly indicate they have an invisible disability or condition – and may need a helping hand, more time, or simply extra space in shops, at work, at events, on transport, or in public spaces.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has embraced the sunflower program to help raise awareness of those living with a non-visible disability and to increase accessibility and inclusion on the peninsula.
Shire libraries and the visitor information centre in Dromana are the first locations to be listed as sunflower-friendly places, where staff are trained to support sunflower wearers.
More shire locations will be added to the list of sunflower-friendly places in the coming months.
Anyone with a hidden disability can wear the hidden disabilities sunflower, as can their carer or loved one. Shire staff have completed training to indicate they can help.
Non-visible disabilities include mobility, diabetes, chronic pain, sleep disorders, learning difficulty, respiratory disorders, visual impairment or hearing loss.
There are 911 disabilities listed on the hidden disabilities and conditions register.
Since launching in the UK in 2016, thousands of businesses across different sectors have joined the global hidden disabilities sunflower network, making it easier for people with invisible disabilities or conditions to find inclusive shops, entertainment, and travel options.
The council plans to develop a community inclusion strategy in late 2023-24 (to replace its 2018-22 disability inclusion plan) to guide future priorities and projects that aim to improve the lives of people living with a disability, including those living with a hidden disability.
Anyone who has a hidden disability or condition and would like to be a part of the global sunflower community can pick up free wearable sunflower merchandise (wrist bands, lanyards, and pins) from any shire library and the Dromana visitor information centre.
Wearable merchandise can also be ordered from the council.