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16 August, 2020

Beaches become accessible for all

THE sea is no longer out of reach for people bound to wheelchairs after the Cairns Regional Council recently purchased two beach wheelchairs for public use.

By Rhys Thomas

THE sea is no longer out of reach for people bound to wheelchairs after the Cairns Regional Council recently purchased two beach wheelchairs for public use.

Wheelchair bound locals can now enjoy the beach wheelchairs which are located at Palm Cove and Ellis Beach, where they can be accessed from the local Surf Life Saving Clubs.

Ellis Beach also has a mobi mat which rolls over the sand and allows conventional wheelchair users to cross the soft sand to the hard sand which can be used in combination with turnout mats to allow people using a wheelchair to sit on the beach, or transfer onto the new float chairs.

The Ellis Beach float chair and mat are available during patrol times from April to November while the Palm Cove float chair is available all year round.

Flexichoice CEO Virginia Carr is excited for the new wheelchairs and understands the positive benefits that people can get out of using this service.

“The overall health effects of strolling on the beach, swimming and fresh air are important for everyone,” she said.

“The Cairns Regional Council’s improvements to accessing the beaches and the fantastic new disability specific equipment widen the possibilities to people with a disability to join in on this experience.

“We are very grateful to the Cairns Regional Council as these resources enrich the life of the Tableland community also.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said Council was working to ensure people were engaged and connected within the community, irrespective of their ability.

“Council has made real progress in improving the capacity for all people with a disability to access our services, facilities and information,” he said.

“We are continuing to find ways to remove barriers for people to participate in activities within the community and improve the quality of life for people with a disability.

“Council has stepped in and purchased these pieces to help all people in our community gain access to the beach and ocean, something most of us take for granted.”

A third float chair is located at the Smithfield Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) office for use in registered programs and as an additional chair at Ellis and Palm Cove beaches during peak times.

New accessible car parks and linking paths to the beaches have also been installed to improve access to the beach.

Mareeba Shire Council Mayor Angela Toppin welcomes and supports Cairns Regional Council’s initiative to provide an inclusive beach experience.


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