Jack Mulholland and Sensory Rooms
I recently had the opportunity to have a fantastic chat to Jack Mullholland of the Maroondah City Council. For those who do not know Jack or what he does, he is the Community Access and Inclusion Facilitator at Maroondah City Council. He’s also an incredibly vocal support advocate to the accessible needs community, being the key figure at the head of the changing places initiative that has taken off across Australia.
In our conversation, I had a chance to find out about the latest accessibility cause Jack is throwing his weight behind and I must say, I found his passion inspiring.
Sensory rooms are a safe, relaxing place where those experiencing sensory overload can go to calm down and centre themselves when the atmosphere they are in becomes too much. It is a space where those experiencing these feelings of stress and panic can engage in grounding techniques and calming methods using a variety of equipment and materials available in these spaces.
These rooms are a facility that is common in many other parts of the world, however, in Australia they are few and far between. Being inspired by these sensory rooms while overseas, Jack has endeavoured to bring the initiative to Australia with a vision to create a more safe and secure experience for all.
Thanks in large part to Jacks efforts, Australians can already enjoy these services at places like some major sporting venues and some shopping centres. This allows both those with sensory disability and their carers/parents to have peace of mind that there is a safe space available for them.
Right now, Jack’s work is primarily focused in the Maroondah City Council as he is a firm believer in “practicing what you preach”. He envisions a fully inclusive council electorate that can be shown to be a beacon of accessibility for those with physical and mental accessibility needs. From there, Jack, with the backing of this example, will continue to push the agenda of sensory rooms so that they can reach the same level of standard as his previous project, the changing places bathrooms.
While physical disabilities are often very visible, and those who live with them and their needs are often clear, those who live with mental disability often go undetected. Because of this, it can easily go unnoticed that there is a large proportion of Australians living with hidden disabilities every day.
A perfect example of this is the Autism Expo hosted by the Maroondah City Council in 2016. Having never run an event like this prior, expected attendance was exceeded massively with more than 2000 people attending from more than 300 different postcodes.
Many of these members of our community live a life resigned to never being able to attend a game for their favourite sporting team or a showing of their favourite band.
Jacks primary focus with the Sensory Room initiative is to make these experiences accessible for all, so that no one has to go without when they could, and should, be easily included.
We at Access Advisor are really excited about the Sensory Room initiative and what it represents for the accessible needs community at large. No one should have to feel they cannot experience a dream because of their disability.