In the Media

Beach mat put to first use

Port Pirie Recorder | Dylan Smith

STACEY Jesson has not been down on the beach for 15 years – but from Friday that has changed. She became the first person to use a beach wheelchair mat at Solomontown Beach, funded by the state government and now facilitated by Red Cross.

The joy on Stacey’s face was clear for all to see as she cut the ribbon and steered her electric wheel chair down the mat towards the beach. Accompanying her on her journey down the mat were grandchildren Ethan and Luke.

Before, she would have to stay at the top of the beach to watch her grandchildren play. “I will be able to take the grandkids down to the beach now,” she said.

Stacey, who works for Bedford, said the facility should be well-used by not just those with wheelchairs but others with mobility issues, including the elderly.

Regional Development and Local Government Minister, and local Independent Member for Frome, Geoff Brock told the gathering at the Australia Day celebrations that having access to the beach was something taken for granted.

“A lot of people with disabilities really can’t get down on to the sand,” he said. Mr Brock thanked councillor Alan Zubrinich and said he saw the need to put an application in to fund the mat. He also praised Port Pirie Regional Council for their support.

Kelly Vincent, Member of the Legislative Council for the Dignity Party, said the beach mat was an investment in the future of inclusion and tourism for Port Pirie, so that more people can enjoy what the area has to offer for years to come.

“Having met with the passionate and informed team from the Red Cross who will be overseeing and assisting the public use of the beach mat, I know it is in capable hands,” she said.

“With the announcement … of government funding for the high level accessible toilets known as ‘Changing Places’ in Whyalla, the beach mat location in Port Pirie should be a high priority for the next locations in South Australia.”

To arrange access to the mat, contact the Red Cross on 8633 8100.