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ABA advocate, Jane Spring, pictured at Avoca Beach to urge for easy beach access facilities for people with disabilities. ABA advocate, Jane Spring, pictured at Avoca Beach to urge for easy beach access facilities for people with disabilities. Featured
12 April 2024 Posted by 


Avoca Beach the driver for change
THE Central Coast has become the launching pad of a nationwide campaign by Accessible Beaches Australia (ABA) seeking a range of disability mobility facilities to the most scenic coastlines.
According to ABA, less than two percent of Australia’s 12,000 popular beaches managed by Councils and state governments (41 are on the Central Coast) have access for people in wheelchairs, even worse for the elderly and those with severe mobility problems.
“Unfortunately, we exclude so many people as beaches in Australia are not accessible to people with disabilities, due to a lack of facilities such as ramps, matting, and accessible toilets,” founder and ABA chair Shane Hryhorec said. 
"Everyone deserves the opportunity to enjoy the sand, sun, and surf it’s a fundamental part of this country, this culture, this summer lifestyle.”
The ABA recently unveiled its campaign at Avoca Beach rolling out a petition signed by its supporters led by two prominent campaigners, lawyer and academic Jane Spring OAM and NSW Rowing Club’s Murray Clarke OAM. 
They are urging the government to follow Greece’s example which they said opened 387 beaches accessible to people with disabilities.
Mr Hryhorec said Greece’s move unlocked an untapped tourism market and Australia’s beachside communities such as the Central Coast with its quintessential attractions to local and international visitors could benefit from it.
“Beach mats, typically long blue rollout mats, make a huge difference for people with disabilities accessing the beach,” said Ms Spring who frequents Avoca Beach in a wheelchair.
A car accident left Ms Spring dependent on her wheelchair and to go for swim and she needs to piggyback on her husband, Mr Clarke who is a University of New South Wales academic and rowing team head coach.
Ms Spring and Mr Clarke are recipients of the Order of Australia Medal in King Charles’ inaugural Birthday Honour List last year for their advocacy to sport and disability services. Both are now lifetime members of the NSW Rowing Club.
“The first time I used the mat at Avoca Beach I was absolutely delighted to be rolled down the mat by my husband,” Ms Spring said.
“The beach wheelchair is not something that you can use independently. You need someone to push it. 
“Avoca Beach is a fantastic beach for people with disabilities as the southern corner is generally sheltered when seas are small. 
“Killcare also has a beach wheelchair and an accessible change room with a shower. The beach is far more exposed, but I would love to swim there on a calm day.”
Ms Spring said they have often requested Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club to roll out the mats to help people with disabilities and elderly people access the beach.
The ABA campaigners are also seeking for secured toilet facilities with shower area for people with disabilities.
To support the ABA petition and learn more about their campaign, visit https://accessiblebeaches.com/.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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