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Dylan Alcott to serve it up at Count Us In

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Much-loved sportsman Dylan Alcott AO will champion opportunities for Novocastrians with a disability in the workplace next month.

The retired gold medal-winning wheelchair tennis player, and 2022 Australian of the Year, is scheduled to serve up a message of advocacy and inclusion in employment during City of Newcastle’s (CN) annual Count Us In festival.

Alcott, who’ll address a business lunch as the keynote speaker, is the only man to complete the Golden Slam in quad singles, capturing all four majors and the Paralympics in 2021.

City of Newcastle councillor Margaret Wood with Songbird drummers and Cr Katrina Wark.

The festival, from 4-24 September, features more than 40 events and activities designed to celebrate and encourage access and inclusion across Newcastle, including dance and art experiences, sports challenges, social and peer networking events and training opportunities.

It was developed in collaboration with Community Disability Alliance Hunter (CDAH) and CN’s Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee.

Co-chair Cr Margaret Wood said Count Us In recognised and celebrated the contributions made by people living with disabilities.

“It effectively and respectfully brings the whole community into the discussion about inclusion,” she explained.

“This builds awareness, breaks down barries and helps create future opportunities especially when it comes to employment.”

CDAH executive director Andrew Vodic added the organisation was proud to partner with CN.

“Once again, our members are excited to be involved in the Count Us In festival,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the 2023 activities, and as official partners with CN, we have a great opportunity to showcase some of our peer groups and community initiatives.”

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said inclusive employment was a key focus this year.

“City of Newcastle prides itself on being a liveable and welcoming community for all people, increasing social inclusion and community connections with events like Count Us In festival in line with our Disability Inclusion Action Plan,” she stated.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dylan Alcott AO to lead the Hunter business community in an important conversation as we work together towards solutions for greater employment and workplace inclusion for people with lived disability.”

Organisers have extended the program over three weeks to allow for Count Us In to cross over with some dates on the New Annual 2023 program.

Councillor Katrina Wark said having an inclusive community was important to all Novocastrians.

“The benefits give Newcastle a wonderful opportunity to showcase a variety of local talent, especially with the Count Us in festival,” she summed up.

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