Australia Council for the Arts

From the top: taking a strategic approach to disability and the arts, the Australia Council for the Arts launches its Disability Action Plan.

The Australia Council for the Arts is the Australian government’s principal arts funding and advisory body. In 2013, it launched its Disability Action Plan for 2014-2016, aligning with its vision to be a leading innovator in the area of disability and accessibility. The Australia Council for the Arts is also a presenting partner of the Arts Activated Conference 2014 with Arts Access Australia and Accessible Arts NSW.

The Australia Council’s mission is to support the creation, presentation and appreciation of distinctive cultural works by providing assistance to Australian artists and making their works accessible to the public. It plays a crucial role in supporting artists and arts organisations to create and present their work, improve and develop their skills, and tour and promote their work to wider audiences. It also develops new audiences for the arts nationally and internationally, and promotes an appreciation of the value of the arts to Australians.

In 2012-13, the Australia Council invested over $174.8 million in artists and arts organisations across Australia, enabling artists to create 8,856 new works and to present, perform, publish or exhibit 7,034 new works.

Some facts about disability in Australian society:

  • Almost 1 in 5 Australians experience a disability, that’s around 4 million people.
  • 54% of people with disability (aged 15 to 64) participate in the Australian labour force, in comparison with 83% of people without disability.
  • The likelihood of conditions that cause disability increases with age; currently 52 per cent of people aged 60 years and over have disability.

and some facts about disability in the arts sector:

  • 55% of people with disability working in the arts are self-employed.
  • 10% of practising professional artists identify with having a disability.
  • Approximately 60% of arts and cultural organisations report that they have interviewed and appointed a person with disability for a job.
  • Less than 40% of cultural organisations currently have a Disability Action Plan (DAP) or Disability Access Inclusion Plan (DAIP).

The Disability Action Plan was developed in consultation with internal and external stakeholders, including the Australia Council’s Access Champions group (a collection of advocates drawn from staff across the organisation), leaders in the arts and disability sectors, and contractors with legislative and technical expertise. The consultation identified remaining access barriers and explored current trends and best practice in the area of disability and access. The plan focuses on three key areas:

Leadership – providing further opportunities and encouragement to people with disability to fulfill their potential as future leaders, to contribute both within and beyond the arts and disability sector, such as the Sync leadership programme.

Accessibility – a focus on improving physical, intellectual, attitudinal and communications access, and considering accessibility in the re-design of funding structures, systems and processes, building space, human resources and communications.

Arts Practice – being conscious of the different types of disability arts practices and how disability may influence work, and recognising that the artistic resources, cultural capital and potential of artists with a disability need to be fostered and unleashed to further contribute to Australia’s cultural narrative. Increasing access to funding opportunities and raising awareness through promotion and advocacy are crucial to this process.

More detailed information about the Disability Action Plan can be found on the Australia Council for the Arts Vimeo channel.

Arts Access Australia, the national body for arts and disability, provide an extensive list of organisations working across the country to improve, celebrate and showcase developments across the sector. They also lead the Disability Arts and Leadership Online Group (DIALOG) – an international network exclusively for artists and arts and cultural workers with disability to come together to develop skills, build networks and share experiences. DIALOG began as an idea in 2012, when Arts Access Australia attended an arts and disability symposium at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, USA. This symposium brought together artists and arts and cultural workers from across the world working in the arts and disability sector and the need for stronger international networks to support disability leadership across the arts emerged as a high priority.

For more information about the work of specific states and territories in Australia, a full list of contacts can be found below:


Arts Access Australia

Arts Access Australia is the national peak body of State and Territory arts and disability organisations working to increase access and participation in the arts for the one in five Australians with a disability.


Tel: +61419 201 338 (voice/ text)



New South Wales

Accessible Arts

Accessible Arts is the peak arts and disability organisation across New South Wales.


Tel: +6122 9251 6499

Fax: +6122 9251 6422




Access Arts

Access Arts Queensland is the peak body working with artists, cultural workers and their communities across Queensland.


Tel: +617 3358 6200

Fax: +617 3358 6211



South Australia

Disability & Arts Transition Team (DATT)


234a Sturt St, Adelaide SA 5000

Tel: +618 8231 0900

Fax: +618 8231 0977



Western Australia

Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts, Australia

Primary Arts and Disability infrastructure in WA, providing cultural access to over 2000 West Australians with disabilities and or mental illness per year.


Tel: +618 9430 6616

Fax: +618 9336 4008



Australian Capital Territory

Art Ability

Art Ability ACT is the peak arts and disability organisation in the ACT. Art Ability ACT is a source of information and advice for artists with disabilities living and working in the ACT.


Tel: +612 6247 1882

Fax: +612 6247 8859



Arts Action Tasmania

Arts Action is the state-wide body in Tasmania with responsibility for information exchange, lobbying and policy development in arts and disability.


Tel: +613 6214 7634

Fax: +613 6214 7636


Northern Territory

Arts Access Darwin

Arts Access Darwin works in the greater Darwin area to improve access to the arts for people with disabilities.


Tel: +618 8945 7347

Fax +618 8945 7345


Central Australia

Arts Access Central Australia

Arts Access Central Australia is working in Alice Springs to improve access to the arts for people with disabilities.


Tel: +618 8952 6338


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