Community innovation leaders applaud students’ visionary inclusivity program

How do we make Newcastle more accessible and inclusive for everyone in our community? This was the question that Newcastle’s innovation leaders challenged students from Bishop Tyrrell Anglican College to answer at the City of Newcastle Sustainnovation Challenge.

Bishop Tyrrell students Megan Williams, Eli McLean-Phillips, and Khiera Bartlett rose to the challenge through a weeklong immersion which gave them a window into the world of those living with a disability in our community. 

“We heard about the lived experiences of four people who shared some raw and heartfelt stories about their own lives,” said Bishop Tyrrell student Khiera Bartle.

“We then worked collaboratively with Mereweather High School students to jump into an Idea Collider and formulate an innovative solution to one of the issues faced by our community: accessibility and inclusion for those living with a disability. 

“Our team decided to tackle the challenge that our society faces most – ignorance.  A huge challenge, but one which our team decided was best overcome through education. 
“We proposed a school-based program being built into the K-12 curriculum.  This innovative program would aim to foster a new attitude towards those living with both visible and invisible disabilities, teach language to allow inclusive dialogue and provide opportunities for the normalisation of disability, said Khiera.

The Sustainnovation Challenge is being delivered under Newcastle City Council’s NewSkills and Living Lab programs and local company MCB Business Partner. Supporting organisations include NSW Department of Education, Business Hunter, Australian Industry Group, University of Newcastle's Integrated Innovation Network (I2N), Castle Personnel Services, and Community Disability Alliance Hunter.

Program Director Duncan Burck said Bishop Tyrrell’s students’ visionary idea showed the greatest potential for Council’s Living Lab accelerator program that will help to make their idea a reality. 

Innovation Consultant from Launchpad9, Ms. Claire Quigley said, “The range of different approaches that can be combined in the program was outstanding and exactly the kind of idea they were looking for from young minds.”

Mr. Trevor Stuart, Regional Manager from Australian Industry Group complimented the students for their effective use of language, literacy, and emotive language in the presentation.

Mr. James Vidler, Council's LivingLab Coordinator said, “The innovative concept also represented the most value returned for the expense extended.” 

Khiera Bartlett – who was also asked to represent all students involved in an interview on the ABC Newcastle radio station

What will these young minds think of next for the future of Newcastle?  We can’t wait to hear their ideas in the three remaining challenges: combating waste, supporting the aging population, and being a future-ready city?  Stay tuned.