- Friday 04 September 2020
The Sunshine Coast’s spectacular beaches will be even more accessible for people of all abilities thanks to an extra initiative launched today by Sunshine Coast Council and The Compass Institute Inc.
A new beach wheelchair and two lifejackets will be available to hire at no-cost between Monday and Friday every week of the year from the Compass Institute at 2 Central Park Road opposite the Caloundra Aquatic Centre.
This new weekday service complements council’s existing popular program that offers beach matting and beach wheelchairs at Kings, Coolum, Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland beaches on weekends and public holidays between September and May each year.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said council has strongly supported initiatives that improve accessibility to our beaches and recognised the need to expand the existing popular program that first rolled out at Alexandra Headland in April 2017.
“Our Council is extremely pleased to partner with The Compass Institute to offer this new chair to residents and visitors to our region,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“The wheelchair has large tyres, which provide a low-pressure footprint, allowing the beach wheelchair to float over the softest sand or pebble beaches to reach the water.
“Focusing on the ability within a disability is crucial to expanding opportunities for everyone in our community and to improving the liveability and accessibility of our region.
“Our beaches are arguably one of the most popular, family friendly tourism destinations in Queensland and we want to ensure that they can be accessed by anyone looking to enjoy that experience.
“Our volunteer lifeguards of Metropolitan-Caloundra, Coolum Beach, Alexandra Headland and Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Clubs offer a great service and support with the existing chairs and matting available each weekend, but now through the support of the Compass Institute, access to our beaches by people with a disability can be improved every day.”
Rose Rimmer is a Team Leader at The Compass Institute, a not-for-profit charity providing education and extra pathways to young people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
“This initiative is a fantastic collaboration between Sunshine Coast Council and Compass,” Ms Rimmer said.
“It will give those living with a disability the opportunity to enjoy the amazing beaches of the Sunshine Coast.
“Compass is excited to be part of this project and looks forward to helping our local community and visitors to the region.”
Metropolitan-Caloundra SLSC President Jim Chisholm’s grandchild uses a wheelchair and he has witnessed first-hand, how beach wheelchairs can improve accessibility.
“It provides tremendous access for people wanting to get to the beach and it’s incredible to see people experiencing the water for the first time,” Mr Chisholm said.
“We helped an 80-year-old gentlemen who just wanted to put his feet in the water and it was one of the best things you could see.
“Providing all year round access is a great step forward for the council and one of the best things they’ve done.”
Division 2 Councillor Terry Landsberg said the existing beach matting helped make life easier for parents with prams and seniors to navigate the sand.
“Our beaches are such an important part of the Sunshine Coast lifestyle and I’m very proud to see programs such as these expand to make the beach more accessible for more people, more often,” Cr Landsberg said.
“This is another step in the right direction and assists to enable people with a disability to move about the region with dignity, pride and independence.”
To book a wheelchair:
Weekdays, bookings can be made via the Compass Institute during business hours Monday to Friday throughout the entire year. A wheelchair can be hired for a few days at a time and needs to be collected at The Compass Institute, 2 Central Park Road opposite the Caloundra Aquatic Centre. Hirers can take the wheelchair to most beach locations in the region. A vehicle large enough to transport the wheelchair is required.
Weekends and public holidays from 21 September 2020 to 4 May 2021, wheelchairs can be borrowed from Surf Life Saving Clubs at Kings Beach, Mooloolaba Beach, Alexandra Headland and Coolum Beach. Call the club ahead or simply request a no-fee booking from a volunteer upon arrival to the beach.
If accessible matting is not in place when you arrive, please request the volunteers surf lifesavers to roll it out.
There is no cost to hire the wheelchair but a deposit is required.
For more information on access, inclusion and disability services and support please visit www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Living-and-Community/Community-Support/Access-Inclusion-and-Disability
Image: (L-R) Lachy Chapman, Spinal Life Australia, Mayor Mark Jamieson, Compass CEO David Dangerfield, Compass trainee Cole Kienzle (front, in beach wheelchair), Katie Hammond, Spinal Life Australia and Division 2 Councillor Terry Landsberg.