“We understand that information empowers people,” said Shane Hryhorec, Accessible Beaches Australia founder and chair. “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. Information is power. They won’t go if they don’t have it or don’t know.”
Hryhorec has been a wheelchair user since suffering a serious spinal injury in an accident in 2007, and in 2016 established Accessible Beaches to lobby and partner with councils, surf lifesaving clubs and other organisations to make Australia’s beaches more inclusive for those living with disabilities. Mobi-mats, designed to create a stable surface on the sand, have since been rolling out at beaches across the country.
Users of the new database can find a beach on the map and check if it features accessible matting along with other information such as accessible bathrooms and parking, lead-up pathways, or retail option within 150 metres.
Bondi Beach has all of the above for example together with beach wheelchair availability, garnering four stars. A click will then inform of current conditions and provide a more detailed rundown.
“There are a lot of considerations for people with disabilities when going to the beach. 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,” Hryhorec commented, while praising the input of Deloitte.
“Australians love their beaches, and we believe that beaches should be for everyone,” said Jason Hutchison, Deloitte’s Core Business Operations lead partner. “We are really proud to have worked with Shane 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.