Ability Fest: diversity and inclusion - Annecto

Breaking barriers: Ability Fest celebrates diversity, inclusion and people living with a disability

Ability Fest banner features people at a music festival with lights on stage and the crowd has their arms up celebrating.

At Annecto, we support individuals to live the life they want to live to the fullest. For some, it may just be to live in their own home independently, for others it may be attending events and music festivals. But sometimes, it can prove difficult to find fully accessible events.

The much anticipated Ability Fest returned to Melbourne’s Birrarung Marr on 25 March 2023. The Dylan Alcott Foundation partnered with Untitled Group to organise the event, and once again delivered a great day of inclusivity and accessibility for individuals of all abilities.  

How does the Fest impact diversity, inclusion and the community?

A not-for-profit event, Ability Fest is Australia’s first all-accessible music festival and a leader for inclusive events, using the power of music and the arts to destigmatise disabilities. 

This year, Ability Fest featured a diverse range of performers and artists, promoting the talents and contributions of individuals with disabilities. 

The festival was a true celebration of inclusivity and accessibility, with infrastructures designed to accommodate people of all levels of ability with elevated platforms and ramps, an Auslan interpreter on stage, a silent disco with vibrating haptic suits for people with hearing impairments, accessible toilets, an assistance dog area, an aesthetic art installation, and a sensory chill-out zone. The food and beverage vendors also catered to diverse dietary requirements and preferences. 

The festival also raises funds for disability-related organisations, and all profits from the event are donated to charity. 

“There are 4.5 million people in Australia with some form of physical or nonphysical, visible or invisible disability. And what do we love? Major events, live music, going to sport. Yet, we often get left out of that conversation because people think we don’t or can’t do anything or there aren’t any of us or we don’t want to go,” Dylan Alcott said in an interview.  

“You might think it’s too hard to do or whatever. It is not. As long as you listen to lived experience, and do it from the beginning, it’s so easy to integrate accessibility and inclusion features into your festival or event.”

Ability Fest continues to challenge events and festivals right around the globe to become more accessible and inclusive for both the artists and the festivalgoers.  

With 1 in 6 Australians living with a disability, there is still a long way to go for this industry to become completely accessible to all. However, it is great to see that more and more Australian events – whether they be sports, music, art or cultural events – are becoming accessible to everyone, regardless of their abilities. 

Annecto has been providing services to people living with a disability for more than 70 years. Our vision is to see a society where everyone can live with equality and purpose. 

We are committed to supporting people living with disabilities by providing person-centred support so they can achieve their unique goals, aspirations, and challenges. At Annecto, we strive to connect individuals and their communities to realise our purpose and create an inclusive society. This starts with listening to the voices of the people we support, elevating those voices and working together to build an accessible and inclusive world for all to enjoy.