Thursday, 4 February 2016
Everyone wins with accessible tourism
The Weekender Herald: herald comment
Last week, some South Australians were able to access Seacliff Beach for the very first time. Following a campaign Dignity for Disability have been involved in, the Member for Bright was able to welcome wheelchair users onto the beach through Australia’s first beach access mat.
Through the involvement of the Seacliff Surf Lifesaving Club, the access mat will now be rolled whenever patrols are on this beach, enabling wheelchair users and other mobility aid users to safely access the beach.
The story was on the local TV on Australia Day evening, and over the coming days, photos and news clips of the unveiling went viral. Dignity for Disability were astounded with the support shown for this basic infrastructure – it really captured the public’s imagination for what is possible.
While we will be ramping up a campaign to see these mats installed throughout South Australian beaches, it brings up the broader issue of access to so many of our public spaces and buildings.
Accessing the beach in Australia almost seems to be viewed as an inalienable right. It is a shame that so many people that may be unsteady on the sand because of injury, ageing or mobility aid use are denied the right to dip their toe in the water.
There are so many other places in our community it would be great to see more ready access for all.
Our national parks, nature parks, playgrounds, zoos and picnic spots are all something that we mobility aid Users would love to access as much as the rest of the community. Just because you use a wheelchair to get around, or live in an aged care residential facility, doesn’t mean you should be denied access to the outdoors and our natural wonders.
The same goes for art galleries, theatres^ sports stadiums, museums, libraries, restaurants, shops, cafes and wineries – we want to enjoy all that these have to offer as much as the next person.
There are significant economic benefits to making South Australia an accessible destination.
When a person with disability travels within Australia, it’s for an average of five nights and they have between two and eight people accompanying them.
Imagine the jobs and dollars that might . flow to our great state, with all its wonderful assets, if we could guarantee accessible beaches, parks, cellar doors, toilets and public buildings for all when they travel here. Dignity for Disability think this is the niche South Australia should be carving for itself in 2016.
Kelly Vincent MLC, Dignity for Disability