Calls For Bondi Beach To Be More Wheelchair Accessible

Tamworth woman Kate Swain, who uses a wheelchair, started a petition to make Bondi more accessible after finding herself unable to properly experience it.

“The last time I visited Bondi, I got as far as the footpath," she said.

"I could only look at the beach. I know it’s not that hard to make a beach fully accessible, it’s already happened at beaches around the country. So why not Bondi Beach?

Kate Swain, who was paralysed after a car accident when she was five-years-old, is calling for Bondi Beach to become more wheelchair accessible. Photo: Supplied.

She started a Change.org petition to ensure other wheelchair users don't miss out on experiencing Bondi -- and within a week, it amassed almost 20,000 signatures.

"The response has been great," Swain told ten daily.

"It started off with a thousand signatures, just people we knew, but it's really taken off."

Bondi is already somewhat accessible at the north end of the beach, where the surf is usually calmer.

Two 'Sandcruizer' wheelchairs are available to borrow, and a beach mat is available on two days per week.

Beach mats allow regular wheelchairs to traverse the sand. Photo: Accessible Beaches Australia.

Waverley Council also confirmed to ten daily that it's committed budget to upgrade the 30-year-old ramp over the next two years, with a spokesperson telling ten daily that they're "committed to making our beaches accessible for everyone."

A new outdoor shower located next to the beach wheelchair storage facility is also planned for the coming weeks.

But those measures don't go far enough, said Swain.

"We want accessibility to be a 24/7 thing," she said.

"The lifesavers can put the beach mats out [as part of their set-up] -- flags up, mats out, flags up. That way anyone can enjoy the beach any day of the week."

She also pointed out that with just two beach chairs, if more than two people in wheelchairs visit the beach, the someone will miss out.

Floating beach wheelchairs allow disabled people to experience the water. Photo: Push Mobility.

It's not the first time the disability community has petitioned local councils to make beaches more accessible.

Two years ago, after campaigning from the disability community, the Gold Coast ran an accessibility trial at Burleigh Heights.

The trial was so successful, the local council rolled out measures to make almost a dozen more beaches wheelchair accessible.

It's a good sign of things to come, said Swain.

"Everybody should be able to enjoy the beach."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Photo: Accessible Beaches Australia