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International Day of People with Disability

"Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all"

3 Dec 2012

Given the theme of this years International Day of People with Disability, "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all", we felt privileged to join the Victorian Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith and Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Andrea Coote, Parks Victoria, Dr David Stratton and representatives from Blind Sports Victoria on the shore of Albert Park Lake to celebrate this years event.

Mary Lou Dixon
Ryan Smith
Andrea Coote
Mary Lou Dixon, Parks Victoria, Minister Ryan Smith, Andrea Coote

Over the past two years Parks Victoria has been working in improving accessibility to Victorian Parks for visitors with a disability. From our point of view, the expenditure has shown a marked shift away from compliance and infrastructure expenditure, to a visitor focused set of programs that are aimed to encourage people with a disability to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

"Over the past two years, the Victorian Government has committed $260,000 to the provision of all-terrain wheelchairs, special accommodation equipment in selected parks and park programs for people with disabilities and their carers." Mr Smith said.

John Kenwright, Parks Victoria and Minister Ryan Smith-TrailRider Sherpas for the afternoon

"Beach access and TrailRider all-terrain wheelchairs are now available at five of Victoria's parks for visitors with significant physical disabilities, making it easier to access trails in the Grampians and Lysterfield Park and beaches at Cape Conran, Wilsons Promontory and Point Nepean," Ms Coote said.

As we have previously reported, Wilsons Promontory has undergone a major upgrade to its park accommodation with two cabins at Tidal River now fully accessible throughout. They are equipped with electric high-low beds; in addition a personal hoist and specialised bathroom equipment such as a shower commode chair, is available to visitors free of charge. With the addition of beach wheelchairs, accessible visitors centre, accessible boardwalks and picnic areas Wilsons Promontory has become an Inclusive destination for people with a disability, their family and friends.

Childrens beach wheelchairIt was announced today that two new self propelled children's wheelchairs have been added to the equipment now available at Wilsons Promontory and Cape Conran.

Ms Coote said Parks Victoria's purchase of two new beach access wheelchairs for children visiting Wilsons Promontory and Cape Conran Coastal Park would really make a difference for children and their families this summer.

The project closest to our heart has been the completion of the updated accessibility information on the 30 most visited parks in the network. This initiative allows people with a disability to look at detailed information on the facilities available at those parks to make their own informed decision on whether a particular park is suitable to their needs and help them to have an enjoyable visit by removing the surprise element.

At today's event Mr Smith announced that Blind Sports Victoria would receive a $15,000 grant for another year
of the successful Australia-first Walk in the Park Program, a volunteer guide program helping
reduce the barriers affecting visitors to parks who are blind or vision impaired.

Blind Sports Victoria
Blind Sports Victoria
Lakeside stroll with Blind Sports Victoria

In our view, "Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all" means exactly that. It is time to look at people with a disability as true valued customers and look at solutions that are both enabling and inclusive. It is all about what people can and more importantly want to be able to do. Removing barriers is not just about building ramps or widening doors, it is not just about providing accessible toilets. While those things are important, today it is about moving beyond even the social model of disability to an enabling customer model of disability. It is about cultural change and making things happen. Parks Victoria have started down that path to make:

"Healthy Parks, Healthy People of all Abilities"

Links to our previous articles on the Parks Victoria Initiatives

Wilsons Prom more accessible than ever before for people with a disability.

TrailRider now available at Lysterfield Park

Parks Victoria extends its Trailrider and Beach Wheelchair Program

Trialling all-terrain wheelchairs in the Grampians NP

Accessibility Links to Victoria's Parks



Stock Image Library featuring individuals with disabilities in Travel, Leisure and Lifestyle settings