Social inclusion is having the resources, opportunities, and capabilities to learn (e.g., participate in education and training); work (e.g., participate in employment, unpaid or voluntary work including family and carer’ responsibilities); engage (e.g., connect with people, use local services, and participate in local, cultural, civic, and recreational activities); and have a voice (influence decisions that affect them). The ability to participate in society, and to be free from discrimination and disadvantage is not only an ideal, but a basic human right – one that we all share; a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration and other treaties that make up the body of international law, by which Australia is bound.
When a community is inclusive, it also becomes more cohesive (people willing to work and cooperate despite differences in their demeanour, culture, and beliefs). Social cohesion is a very important driver of long-term prosperity and competitiveness. Cohesive societies are politically stable and focus on economic growth and business development. All the principles relate to this element: accessibility, sustainability, connections, flexibility, and equity.
Aboriginal residents as well as other minority groups can feel isolated and unaccepted. With less diversity within rural and regional areas, difference can be viewed with suspicion or a lack of tolerance, whether it is cultural, religious, sexual, educational, or economic difference. Feeling accepted is critical to successfully attracting and retaining a broad mix of critical skills and population for declining communities within the region.
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