The Tamworth region and community are being used to explore the future of disability transport and connectivity.
The issue has been targeted by Insurance and Care NSW (Icare), who teamed up with the UNE Smart Region Incubator to take on a project that hopes to solve a growing problem in regional communities.
Icare GM Barney Smith said that while “transport options are available for people with disabilities, and their carers, to get to their GP and medical appointments, outside of this it can be very hard for people to find transport to social events.”
“Everybody should be able to go out for a coffee or to the movies or the pub with their friends, and nobody who lives with a disability should be excluded from this because they can’t access transport,” he said.
The project kicked off in May this year, when Icare put out a challenge to the community for sustainable, affordable and innovative transport ideas, and several people and organisations came forward.
Project manager Ashley Auburn said three of those solutions were put through a series of workshops, and pitched to a panel of judges and the public on Tuesday night.
While the official winner will not be announced until February, following further fine tuning, the people’s choice award went to Access a Ride.
“They are a consortium of agencies who have developed a system that is looking at better coordination of transport providers,” Ms Auburnurn said.
“The other ideas were Peeps Ride, which is a ride sharing initiative which aims to leverage drivers in the community with the needs of riders and carers, while the OMNI Men’s Shed looked at providing more volunteer based options for popular events.”
All three initiatives will now receive further mentoring and support from the UNE Incubator before going back before the judging panel early next year.
“We wanted to focus on regional towns, like Tamworth and Dubbo, where improvements could be made to transport and existing infrastructure built on,” Ms Auburn said.
“We need greater sector involvement, and the greater community to get involved in order to make the ideas sustainable.”