Increasing Accessible Food Packaging

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My name is Jerusha. I am a passionate disability advocate and a PhD student. I have cerebral palsy which makes tasks that involve strength and fine motor skills challenging. I love to cook and whilst I have gained some level of independence in the kitchen, the most challenging parts for myself would be opening the food packaging because of the way they are currently made. And I know I am not alone in this. A lot of people find this challenging for a variety of different reasons. In fact, statistics show that 44% of consumers had difficulty opening packaging every day.

Globally, product designers and engineers make products every day, but they do not always consider people with disabilities and elderly persons when creating their designs. For an example, opening jars, tins, and bottles require a significant level of strength and fine motor skills. If you did not have these physical capacities like me, opening these would be extremely challenging and pose risks to individuals leading to some devastating injuries. This significantly interrupts a person’s independence and quality of life. It also creates unnecessary barriers, that can be eradicated with some innovative / lateral thinking. I believe we should all be able to open food packaging with ease and comfort.

Considering the high statistics (1 in 4) of people with disabilities in Australia, I think that designers and engineers should create accessible designs and work with consumers with disabilities to ensure their product is completely accessible to them. This issue also pertains to the elderly population which makes up a significant 57 % of the Australian population. Gaining ongoing feedback from disabled and elderly consumers would be invaluable to ensuring inclusive designs and should be the standard process.

Altering the design to make it more accessible for the individual with disabilities would be significantly beneficial to increasing the individual’s overall health and independence. This could also reduce their reliance on a support worker, granting them a more autonomous cooking session as willed. Enabling them to have the equal access to fresher, home cooked meals.

Moreover, it would be helpful if each product that is made in a “disability / elderly friendly” manner would indicate this on their label.

More push, conversations and actions should be initiated regarding this matter.

Hence, I encourage you to sign this petition here which will influence the food design and engineering industries to consider creating more accessible packaging. Also, you can share your story here and/or write a letter to a local MP and ask for change.

You can also contact your local supermarket (including Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, and / or IGA), brands (to name a few: KanTong, Golden Circle, Cottees, Bega, and / or Ferrero) and/or manufacturers and demand change.   

Please feel free to spread the word. 

I am running this petition with the support of my mentor, Felicity Furrey who is an engineer and renowned speaker and a friend Hannah Diviney, who is another passionate disability advocate and university student.

Yours sincerely,

Jerusha Mather  

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