Enhancing Accessibility in the Arts: Access Ability Australia’s Collaborative Efforts with City of Greater Bendigo


Access to art and entertainment is a fundamental right that should be enjoyed by everyone in our community. Unfortunately, individuals with disabilities often face barriers that prevent them from fully engaging in cultural experiences. Recognising this issue, the City of Greater Bendigo has partnered with Access Ability Australia (AAA) to develop an innovative solution that promotes inclusivity and provides improved accessibility information to individuals before attending events. In this blog post, we will highlight the remarkable work AAA and council has accomplished by showcasing four Bendigo art and entertainment venues in Access Keys (accessibility guides) accompanied by Social Stories, revolutionising the way accessibility is addressed in the community.

Breaking Barriers through Collaboration:

City of Greater Bendigo’s collaboration with Access Ability Australia has been instrumental in driving forward accessibility initiatives. By combining their expertise and resources, they have managed to create an impactful project that benefits the entire community. This collaboration demonstrates the power of partnerships in fostering positive change.

Access Keys and Social Stories are now available for the following four Bendigo Venue and Events (BV&E) spaces:

The Importance of the Access Keys:

The newly developed Access Keys serve as comprehensive resources, providing detailed information about accessibility features and services available at the showcased venues. From wheelchair accessibility to sensory accommodations, these guides empower individuals to make informed decisions and plan their visits with confidence. It eliminates uncertainty and ensures that no one feels excluded from enjoying the vibrant arts and entertainment scene within the City of Greater Bendigo’s community.

Social Stories: Enhancing the Pre-Visit Experience:

Understanding the anxiety and concerns individuals with autism or cognitive disabilities may face when attending new venues, AAA and council have incorporated Social Stories into the project. Social Stories are visual narratives that offer a step-by-step guide of what to expect during a visit, reducing stress and promoting a positive experience. By offering these resources, AAA and council have made significant strides towards creating an inclusive environment for individuals of all abilities.

Impactful Results and Future Expansion:

The implementation of the Access Keys and Social Stories will yield positive outcomes. More individuals will be able to confidently attend art and entertainment events, knowing that their accessibility needs will be met.

We asked Nikki Williams, City of Greater Bendigo’s Coordinator of Inclusive Communities, why she believed it was crucial to showcase access and inclusion at these four venues and collaborate with Access Ability Australia to develop Access Keys and Social Stories.

Nikki emphasised that “these resources ensure people have equal access to information, services, and opportunities.” She further elaborated that Access Keys and Social Stories offer effective, clear, and accessible information and tools to support people to navigate and understand the accessibility features and accommodations available at the venues. By providing comprehensive and user-friendly resources, individuals can confidently plan their visits, knowing that their specific needs will be met, thereby promoting a more inclusive and enjoyable experience for all.

Furthermore, Nikki highlighted that providing enhanced access information not only benefits people with disabilities but also extends its advantages to the wider community, including parents with prams, the ageing population and the vibrant and diverse LGBT+ community.

She added this level of resourcing also establishes a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. Community inclusion holds immense significance for the City of Greater Bendigo, recently named Victoria’s top tourism town. Facilitating improved access to visitor information plays a vital role in fostering community participation and engagement.

By partnering with Access Ability Australia, AAA and the council have taken proactive steps to bridge the information gap and ensure that individuals with disabilities can make informed decisions and actively participate in the vibrant arts and entertainment scene of Greater Bendigo.


The collaborative efforts between Access Ability Australia and the City of Greater Bendigo will result in a ground-breaking project that is transforming accessibility in the arts. Through the development of Access Keys and the incorporation of Social Stories, individuals of all abilities will now be able to enjoy art and entertainment with improved information and peace of mind. This initiative serves as an inspiration for other communities, highlighting the importance of inclusivity and the positive impact it can have on individuals’ lives. With continued support and dedication, we can build a truly accessible and inclusive society, where everyone has equal access to the beauty of art and entertainment.

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Front cover of the Access Key for The Capital showing auditorium with seating
Group of young adults with disability gathered together laughing and smiling
Dudley House Access Key front cover showing front of Dudley house building
Front cover of Dudley House Social Story with young adult woman sitting in wheelchair holding mobile phone and smiling at camera
Front cover of Access Key for Ulumbarra Theatre showing audirotium and seating
Front cover of Ulumbarra Theatre Social Story with father and son sitting in theatre watching a show
Front cover of Engine Room Access Key showing front of building
Front cover of Social Story for Engine Room showing small boy watching a live show