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 identify 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:
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