17 May Beach Accessibility Day gives residents a taste of freedom.
A Beach Accessibility Day last Saturday on Tannum Sands beach, gave local residents with disabilities or limited mobility a taste of freedom, and kicked off a campaign to make our beach permanently accessible.
Rolling out the Mobi-Mat, the self-propelled DaVinci Beach Wheelchair and the Mobi-Chair Floating Wheelchair Shane Hryhorec from Push Mobility, himself a wheelchair user due to a spinal injury, said the beach was for everyone:
“When we started out, there were only three fully accessible beaches across the country,” he said.
“Now there are over twenty. I’m hoping that twenty become forty and forty becomes 100 over the next few years.”
He said that in Altona in Victoria, accessibility equipment is available for use on the beach 24 hours a day, seven days a week, due to progressive action by their local council: “And it’s cold in Victoria! They’ve just reached a record of 500 days with the equipment available and someone has used it each and every day.”
“Imagine what it would be like here in Tannum Sands where it’s 23 degrees in the middle of winter!”
He says that with 20 percent of Australians suffering limitations to their mobility, beach access wasn’t only a ‘disability issue’ “There needs to be a range of access equipment available, obviously a quadriplegic who uses a very complex wheelchair with a lot of support can’t just step into a beach wheelchair, there need to be different levels of support.”
He says that full beach accessibility also means access to clean, key-locked change rooms which only the intended users can access, access to permanently shady areas, equipment that allows users to remain in their own chair and/or a range of beach/floating chairs for people of different abilities.
The event originated with a request from local resident Brian Hill, for information about Push Mobility’s products. Shane recommended he hold an event and get the community on board:
“We have situations where nursing homes are buying their own mats to enable them to take residents on outings to the beach, but I believe that there should be a level of community support.”
“With 20 percent of the population having a disability, you shouldn’t have to crowdfund for something like this. You wouldn’t have crowdfunded a bus shelter or a rubbish collection service,” Shane said.
Equipment for this event was provided by Push Mobility free of charge and was supported by Cr Kahn Goodluck and Cr Rick Hansen from Gladstone Regional Council.
Brian Hill, a local disability support worker is raising funds for equipment for people in wheelchairs to be able to access the beaches in our community. If you think you can help Brian, hit on this link. https://www.gofundme.com/beachmats