Project Type
Local Government Initiative
Western Australia

The City of Bunbury’s aspiration to create an inclusive and highly accessible built environment has led to a collaboration with their community and Edith Cowan University to deliver the MARCIA project; the partnership has produced a study that has guided Bunbury’s vision to be the Most Accessible Regional City in Australia (MARCIA).

Accessible and inclusive 

The MARCIA Project began in 2016, following community consultation that established the need for a holistic and targeted approach to accessibility and inclusivity in the Region.

Led by the (then) Bunbury Community Access Committee, the outcomes of this consultation demonstrated that, to be successful, the project needed to access resources, knowledge and expertise beyond that held by the council. The City partnered with Edith Cowan University (ECU) to conduct a 12-month research project exploring the barriers and facilitators of accessibility and inclusion throughout Bunbury.

Mobi-Matting - The MARCIA Project

The project was The project was led by a PhD Candidate at ECU,  who recruited 11 local  co-researchers, all of whom were residents with lived experience of disability. An appreciative inquiry approach was adopted: this is a process of facilitating dialogue between stakeholders to identify how current positive practices can be strengthened and further developed. The research methods included:

  • An in-depth discussion and inquiry with Council participants
  • A review of current City of Bunbury policies, plans and procedures (and those of other regional and metropolitan Australian local governments)
  • Discussions with people with disabilities, advocacy organisations and state disability services
  • A review of relevant global, national and state conventions and legislation relating to human rights and disability discrimination
  • A review of other local government disability access and inclusion initiatives nationally and internationally

Through this comprehensive approach, researchers identified that most barriers are introduced at the initial design stage of development - when facilities, services and events are being conceptualised. 

The researchers therefore sought to understand how designers might be better supported and equipped to create spaces that eliminate these barriers, specifically using the principles of inclusive design.

In particular, the researchers looked at the availability of training and technical support for learning inclusive design, and they also considered how co-designing spaces with people experiencing a disability may be facilitated to improve the inclusive qualities of design outcomes.

Taxi accessibility - The MARCIA Project

The MARCIA research outcomes were intended to support enduring and sustainable change to the design of facilities, services and events. These changes to the built environment encourage active ageing and walkability, and promote social inclusion for all community members. The recommendations included:

  • Implement training for inclusive design
  • Increase technical support for inclusive design
  • Improve benchmarks, checklists and accountability for inclusive design
  • Involve people with disabilities as partners in co-design
  • Promote sharing of best practice in inclusive design
  • Retrofit to remove existing barriers to community access and inclusion

Bunbury has championed the findings of the MARCIA movement by creating the City of Bunbury Disability Access and Inclusion Plan 2017-2022. This plan incorporates active ageing and walkability measures that go beyond standard statutory requirements. The in-depth participation model adopted by the City is testament to the its commitment to the vision. 

Project Team

  • City of Bunbury
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Community members
  • The Regional Capitals Alliance WA (RCAWA) – Sponsor

Project Cost

The potential costs associated with meeting the MARCIA recommendations are estimated at $180,000 annually.

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