If there’s one thing that Aussies are renowned for, it’s our love of the beach. Until now beaches have posed access challenges for users with special mobility needs, but this is all set to change with a wave of wheelchair mats being rolled out across the golden sands of some of our best-loved beaches.
Torquay Beach trials the Mobi-Mat
Cameron D’Amico was the first person to officially trial the new Mobi-Mats down at beautiful Torquay Beach, enabling him to drive his wheelchair across the sand and down to the water’s edge. The smile on Cameron’s face and his delighted reactions to the surf were clear evidence that the trial was a success, with Fraser Coast council planning to roll out more mats throughout their local area.
Council mayor Chris Loft is working with a number of support groups – including Push Mobility – to ensure that a few niggling bugs are ironed out before the full roll out gets implemented. Once successfully completed, the mats will ensure that people with disabilities have greater access to the local amenities, giving them the opportunity to spend more time with their families.
Accessible beaches come to Adelaide
Adelaide’s popular Henly Beach has recently rolled out a new wheelchair mat, offering users the opportunity to access the surf and the sand. Over 400 people turned out for the “grand unrolling”, with several wheelchair users experiencing their first ever time in the ocean. The addition of beach wheelchairs has made access even easier, as they are custom built to cope with sand and water.
Currently, the mats are only in use at 10 beaches around Australia, but more local councils are starting to take notice. Beach accessibility amenities such as the Mobi-Mat are perceived to be expensive upgrades, but each one generally costs less than a bus shelter to implement. Accessible Beaches Australia advocate tirelessly for accessibility, working with councils to make improvements.
For such a simple idea, wheelchair mats make a huge difference to the lives of people with mobility impairments. Another sacred Aussie tradition is the idea of the “fair go” and amenities like this speak to notions of fairness and equality that we all hold dear. Wheelchair mats make it easier for everyone to enjoy our beautiful beaches, and that can only be a good thing.