The Best Bites “Access for All” criteria are aimed at helping businesses reduce physical or social barriers that might prevent people from finding your business, navigating around easily, and receiving good service.

Catering to the diverse needs of our community, includes people with disabilities, parents with prams, older people, those experiencing temporary disability from injury, newly arrived immigrants and all their friends and families.

About 20 per cent of Victorians have a disability, and on the Peninsula this number is closer to 25 per cent due to our older population – that’s around 42,500 residents.

If your premises are not accessible for all you may be missing out on significant numbers of potential customers. A study by Monash University, commissioned by the City of Melbourne, found a 20 to 25% increase in turnover for universally accessible retail environments compared to non-accessible environments.

(Also, under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992, your business is legally obliged to ensure ease of access for people of all abilities)

Good access allows EVERYONE to:

  • Find your business
  • Move around safely outside and inside
  • Find and pay for goods and services
  • Get assistance if required
  • Feel welcome

There are also some good resources to help you and your staff understand accessibility, and explain why being accessible makes good business sense.

The Shire’s Disability Community Inclusion Officer has prepared a short informative video for food businesses and community groups that serve food. Share it with your staff as a training exercise, or include it in your staff handbook.

So how does this information help my business get into the Best Bites Food Guide?

Each food business is routinely assessed by a Shire Environmental Health Officer each year. To qualify for consideration in the Best Bites Food Guide, the business must achieve the following:

  • Obtain a score of 95% or above in the annual food premises assessment
  • Safely manage food allergens and provide allergen information to customers on request.

A Shire Environmental Health Officer visits the business to validate a short list of key criteria across the five pillars of Access & Inclusion, Nutrition & Healthy eating, Smoke Free Dining & Alcohol Management, Recycling & Waste Initiatives, Energy & Water Efficiency. Businesses can be listed in one or more sections – they don’t have to be listed in all five, but the more areas your business is validated in, the more recognition and exposure your business gets! Each area validated will ensure the business is listed under that section of the Best Bites Food Guide.

The Best Bites Food Guide criteria for Access & Inclusion are:

  • Provide full wheelchair access to all customer areas. Consider portable ramps for front entrances
  • Have customer access to a wheelchair accessible toilet
  • Provide services and facilities for customers with a vision or hearing impairment
  • Train service staff in access and inclusion
  • Have a documented policy that covers access and inclusion

Read more about how to get into the Best Bites Food Guide and the other pillars of excellence, or get in touch  with the Shire's Environmental Health Team to ask any questions. Phone them on 5950 1050 or contact the team online.

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