EVERYBODY DESERVES THIS. WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
EVERYBODY DESERVES THIS. WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
Going to the beach is an important part of Australian culture and identity. This is true for those who live here and for the thousands of people who travel from all over the world to experience our beautiful, white sandy beaches and infamous surf. For some people living with a disability, the beach has been a critical part of their lives but, after an accident or illness, they’ve no longer been able to pursue this passion and interest in a meaningful way. For other people with a disability, going to the beach and getting involved in beach culture has never really seemed to be an option.
Approximately one in five Australians identity as living with a disability (ABS Census 2015). This equates to almost 4.3 million community members who are more likely to experience some kind of barrier when trying to access their local patrolled beach. Typical barriers might include:
Physical environment e.g. lack of accessible car parks, footpaths and amenities; no sand or water access; lack of/outdated/damaged access equipment;
Communication issues e.g. limited or no accessible information publicly available; no accessible signage; little or no access to paid Life Guards and/or volunteer Life Savers;
Attitudes of others e.g. individual’s and community’s limited understanding of disability; tendency to make assumptions; perception that access and inclusion at the beach is too hard and/or expensive.
Accessible Beaches was founded in 2016 with a vision to make most patrolled beaches in Australia wheelchair accessible by 2020. Despite a challenging start, we're gaining strong momentum and expanding mainstream understanding of what it takes to make our beaches inclusive and accessible. Accessible Beaches works with local government, Surf Life Saving clubs, people with lived experience of disability, NGOs, government funded programs and other community stakeholders to explore what is possible so we can open up our beaches and beach communities to everyone. Our mission is simple: we want to improve the quality of life for more than four million Australians living with a disability by getting them back onto the beach.
To date, Accessible Beaches has helped activate at least 25 wheelchair accessible patrolled beaches across Australia. We have also facilitated five of the largest beach access events in the world and help promote accessible beaches across Australia through www.accessiblebeaches.com
Our work is not without its challenges. The physical features and weather patterns of each beach is different and some are better suited to access equipment than others. Even so, there are usually other opportunities to improve access and inclusion even if direct sand and water access is not possible. For example, accessible parking spaces, improved pathways, viewing platforms, accessible amenities, signage, reviewing policies and procedures and membership recruitment practices. Some small improvements don’t necessarily involve a significant cost. Financing these initiatives often depends on local Council budgets and surf club fundraising, as well as the availability of relevant grants and sponsorship opportunities.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of what we do is helping break down attitudinal barriers. Increasingly, we spend a lot of time traveling around Australia educating key community stakeholders about beach access equipment, dignity of risk, accessible tourism and inclusive practices for visible and invisible disabilities at the beach. We also work with local community members, including people with lived experience of disability and their families and carers, to help advocate for positive and sustainable change at local beaches.
And this is just our grassroots beginning! We have a long road ahead, and we need your help.
WATCH: Highlights from the accessible beach event at Henley Beach
With more than 22,000 contacts throughout Australia, we use technology to band communities together, amplifying voices and using data to positively engage with local and state governments.
During the warmer months we host accessible beach days, demonstrating to local councils that beach accessibility is simple and in high demand with local residents. Our events generally alleviate all stakeholder concerns.
Working closely with local and state governments, we're slashing red tape right across the country by providing support to navigate common compliance, procurement, risk, insurance and operational issues.
We provide site evaluations and professionally install the highest quality products on the market - all backed up with a minimum 12 month warranty. We also provide training, support and supplier endorsed maintenance.
We provide free marketing and advertising support to all of our customers to ensure their installations are highly visible across the nation. This is a critical need for making your site a success - ask us why.
41 active, 8 pending launch
We will keep you posted as we continue to roll out new accessible beaches throughout Australia.
Visit the Get Involved page to register your support.
Follow us using the social links below to stay in touch.
Ownership & operations
The Accessible Beaches campaign is operated and fully funded by Push Mobility, and supported by many dedicated volunteers.