Let the Games begin – the City of Newcastle National Innovation Games, that is.
The Hunter is currently playing host to the unique event, bringing together local people who live with disability, businesses, emerging talent and leaders from industry, government, academia, not-for-profit organisations and advocacy groups to solve problems to make the city more inclusive and accessible.
Through a series of facilitated design sprints, 10 diverse teams collaborated throughout the day (5 May), focused on barriers that exist for people with mental illness, physical disability, cognitive disability, deafness or hearing impairment, and blindness or vision impairment.
Those parties uncovered practical, scalable and easily implementable solutions to improve disability inclusion, addressing the challenge topic, Inclusion 365: Navigating Physical and Digital Worlds.
Funded by the Australian Government, the Games – part of the Hunter Innovation Festival – are delivered by Paddl Co – a start-up developing new ways to better prepare organisations, employees, practitioners and talent for the future of work – through the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA).
Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said City of Newcastle was proud to support the National Innovation Games, advancing council’s commitment to develop disability inclusion initiatives in line with its Newcastle Smart City Strategy 2017 – 2021 and Disability Inclusion Action Plan 2016.
“The event allows people to collaborate on new ideas and concepts that organisations and businesses can take away and implement to improve disability inclusion in the community,” he explained.
“We’re highly-motivated to improve disability inclusion so we are leveraging this opportunity by encouraging the winning team to pitch for a $25,000 grant to deliver a technology pilot to take their solution to the next stage.”
Paddl Co CEO Dominique Fisher acknowledged the support of the Australian Government and City of Newcastle.
“We are thrilled to be able to bring the National Innovation Games to the Hunter to foster new ideas that produce meaningful change,” she said.
“We’re grateful to both of them for making today’s event possible.
“The Paddl Games model, the model on which the National Innovation Games was built, is specifically designed to enable and deliver ‘inclusive innovation’ by bringing together a highly-diverse group of people, including diverse skills, knowledge, professional and lived experience and backgrounds.
“This unique model will generate valuable IP, as we work to make the city a more accessible and inclusive place.
“Applying the smart city capabilities of technology, data and collaboration, some solutions may aim to remove barriers, while others may aim to add or expand guidance, support or infrastructure.
“We are very excited to see what comes from the day to build a more inclusive society.”
COSBOA CEO Peter Strong highlighted the company’s commitment to inclusion and equality.
“COSBOA exists to promote and support the development of privately-owned businesses and family-owned enterprises in Australia, to advance their interests, and to foster awareness and understanding of their role,” he said.
“Inclusion and equity sit at the heart of these goals as we work to ensure that all small business owners, including small business owners with a disability, have equal opportunity to compete and succeed.
“Small business also has a role to play in making the world we live in more accessible and inclusive, whether through the products and services they deliver, how they’re delivered or even just the marketing of their products and services.”