A first-of-its-kind beach access directory, which lists details of accessible beaches across Australia for people living with a disability, has just been launched by Accessible Beaches Australia.
The directory – accessiblebeaches.com – has been developed in partnership with Deloitte and will provide Australians who are living with a disability better access to reliable information of accessible beaches and will provide them with a greater opportunity to enjoy one of Australia’s most-loved activities: going to the beach.
Founder and Board Chair of Accessible Beaches Australia, Mr Shane Hryhorec, believes that information empowers people.
“The more information we can provide about accessibility to Australian beaches for people with disabilities, the better equipped those people will be to know if that beach is appropriate for them or not,” Mr Hryhorec said.
“Information is power; they won’t go if they don’t have it or don’t know.”
Ms Natalie Roberts, the mother of Chiara, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, talipes, polymicrogyria and microcephaly, said the new Accessible Beaches Australia website is an absolute blessing for her family who lives on the coast in Noosa, Queensland.
“Navigating the outdoors, and beaches in particular can be challenging, however, with this resource at our fingertips it allows our beach adventures to happen with ease and flow,” Ms Roberts said.
Mr Hryhorec said that the new beach access directory has lots of resources for people living with a disability.
“There are a lot of considerations for people with disabilities when going to the beach,” Mr Hryhorec continued.
“You don’t just have to think of towels and sunscreen and the best beach with the best surf, but also whether it will be possible to access that beach and what equipment and tools might be needed.
“If it becomes too hard, then inclusivity at the beach just won’t happen,” Mr Hryhorec added.
For people living with a disability, like Rochelle (pictured above), the sand at the beach had always been an impossible barrier.
After trialling new beach-accessible equipment at Port Macquarie, Rochelle was finally in the sea last December after not being able to visit the beach in over ten years.
“I loved today. You made a little miracle happen, and because of what you did, it gave me a feeling of being normal,” Rochelle said.
Rochelle said the Accessible Beaches website can now tell her if she can get onto a beach before she even travels the distance to get there.
“I will also know that I will feel included because there are accessible bathrooms, matting, and accessible car parks. It’s good to know that I can roll onto the beach on a marvellous sunny day with my friends and family,” Rochelle said.
“With an accessible beach directory that shows me which beaches have facilities, I know what will be possible when I go to the beach with my friends and family.”
Mr Hryhorec added Accessible Beaches were thrilled to partner with Deloitte, a leading provider of assurance, advisory, taxation and consulting services. to develop this Australian-first resource.
He was impressed by their passion for improving the experience of those with disabilities going to the beach.
They recognised that this digital platform was essential to ensuring that people with disabilities could access their local beaches.
It was created for people with a disability to be made widely available at no cost to any person with a smartphone or computer and has the benefit of being an interactive information tool that is kept updated through audits and user feedback.
“They knew Accessible Beaches was just run by passionate volunteers looking for tech ways to promote accessible beach access. They realised that our new Accessible Beaches online directory.”
Lead Partner at Deloitte Digital, Mr Jason Hutchison, said: “Australians love their beaches, and we believe that beaches should be for everyone.
“We (Deloitte Digital) are really proud to have worked with Shayne and the team at Accessible Beaches to develop their branding and website to support their mission to improve the quality of life for Australians living with a disability by getting them back; onto the beach.”