(3pm, Thursday 14 February 2013, Council Chambers)
Hello, everyone. Welcome to this inaugural meeting. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.
This first meeting will be chaired by our CEO, Monica Barone, whom some of you have already met. Not everyone was able to be at the welcome reception we held for the panel late last year, so to those who weren't there, a warm welcome today.
I said that then the City of Sydney is serious about inclusion, that it is fundamental to our vision for Sydney as a multi-layered, diverse, tolerant and welcoming city that provides a rich variety of experiences for all people.
That includes, of course, people with a disability.
We've made some progress in improving accessibility over the last year.
Some of those improvements include the introduction of OpenMi Tours here at Town Hall which improve access for people with a hearing impairment.
We've made infrastructure upgrades, redeveloped our City of Sydney website to comply with web access standards, and we've continued to improve access for Sydney New Year's Eve.
And the establishment of this panel, of course, marks an important step forward.
You will play a significant part in advising us across the range of our strategies, policies and projects.
One of your first tasks will be to help shape our new strategic agenda for access and inclusion by revitalising our Inclusion (Disability) Action Plan. This is a critical plan that will shape our approach to access and inclusion in the coming years.
Indeed, the main agenda item for this meeting will be a discussion on directions for the development of that plan.
You'll also be briefed on two projects - the Legible Sydney Wayfinding Strategy and Access Improvements to CBD Streets.
As I said, we are serious about building an inclusive city for all, and I will be the City's representative on the panel, along with the Deputy Lord Mayor, Robyn Kemmis, who will represent me when I'm unable to attend.
So once again, a very warm welcome to you all, and thank you for agreeing to help us in this important work.