In the Media

Kelly Vincent – 891ABC Interview on Beach Access and Changing Places

Henschke: It’s the first really beautiful day we’ve had for quite a while so a lot of people would be thinking that it’s a good time to go down to the beach or to some park somewhere. We’re going to talk to Kelly Vincent now about some of the issues for people with disabilities it’s something she’s been campaigning for and you’ve had some success in recent months tell us what’s happened if someone wants to go down to the beach now and they’re in a wheelchair?

Kelly Vincent: Back in January there was a community fundraising effort which was led by David Speirs who is the Member for Bright to get a beach ramp down at Seacliff and that ramp was successfully fundraised for by the Rotary Club and some individual community members as well, and they now have a ramp down there at Seacliff. The feedback was enormous and we started getting lots of pictures of people who were able to go down to the beach and play on the sand with their kids, maybe for the first time in that young person’s life. So we thought this was something that we really needed to get spread out to every possible beach in SA, and so we’ve been in contact with every metropolitan coastal council since and very pleased in the last couple of weeks to attend the launch of a ramp down at Semaphore. So it is spreading but we would certainly love to see this happen in every possible beach in South Australia.

Henschke: And how much do the beach mats cost and how do they operate?

Kelly Vincent: It depends a bit on which material is used. There are a few different versions, the one at Seacliff was around $10,000 so they’re not cheap but given that was covered by a combination of funding sources it’s not such a big investment if everyone is kicking in. It’s certainly a big investment because the feedback that we’ve received so far definitely shows that people will travel to these areas that they know these accessible facilities are available. So it’s very much an investment in the economy as well as general society to give people this experience.

Henschke: So at the moment in South Australia you’ve only got two beaches so if you go down to Largs for example you have to have someone pick up your wheelchair and carry you across the sand and then get onto some firm ground, is that what happens?

Kelly Vincent: Obviously it depends on a lot of things; the type of wheelchair, the strength of the individual as to whether they’re able to navigate on the sand and

Henschke: What about you – how did you get on when you wanted to go to the beach?

Kelly Vincent: In my regular wheelchair it would be pretty tough but I also own an off-road wheelchair but if I was in my regular chair it would be very tough and this is exactly why the rubber beach mat is so useful. It means you don’t have to get out of your chair to get down on the sand. There are different chairs available but if you have to think about packing that chair in the car and making the extra room in the car, that might not be possible, so you have to get an access cab or the local council might not have a beach chair available. So there are lots of things to think about and this is why the beach mat is so great it enables most people in their regular everyday chair to get down onto the sand. The other thing is it’s not just about wheelchair users, this is very much about everyone. It could be older people who are unsteady on their feet, or maybe starting to use walking frames, it could be parents of young children in prams all manner of people and that’s certainly something that Dignity for Disability tries to promote that what is good for people with disabilities is good for everyone particularly because we have an ageing population.

Henschke: The other thing is the ability to change someone and toileting you point out a lot of people with disabilities only go out for an hour or two because they’ve got to come back to go to the toilet.

Kelly Vincent: That’s right. Dignity for Disability has been campaigning very hard to get changing places here in South Australia. If you could imagine an accessible toilet plus it will have the handrails, the extra space plus a few extra features which make it more accessible for many other people. There are different standards but I think the gold standard would probably include an adult-sized change table and a hoist.

Henschke: You’ve pointed out other places in Australia have got this…

Kelly Vincent: Yes, many other states have taken up changing places and to great success. We see a lot more people going to those venues now because they know those facilities are available. If you are an adult person and because of your disability you still require assistance to change, but the only thing available to you is a baby-sized change table, it isn’t going to suit the majority of adults, then your only choice is to change on the floor of a public toilet.

Henschke: I’d urge our listeners to go and look at www.changingplaces.org.au. It’s certainly not dignified and you would like to see one at the Adelaide Oval for a start or Festival Theatre.

Kelly Vincent: Certainly. There are a number of big developments happening in Adelaide at the moment that we think we could take advantage of to put this in place but we’ve been working with the Adelaide City Council for some time now and I feel we’re getting very close to finding a suitable location. I know the current Lord Mayor Martin Haese is particularly keen and working very hard to find a suitable place. But we’re also working with a number of other councils as well including Marion Council they’ve just signed up to get a new accessible playground with a lot of facilities and also some more regional councils like Clare so we’re working very hard to get this in place. And given it’s not only about people with disabilities, it’s about the friends, the family and even interstate and international visitors that we want to bring with us to these events. We think it’s going to be a great investment in the economy.

Henschke: You certainly are the campaigner for your party. Thanks for your time this afternoon.