Disability groups have welcomed Sunshine Coast Council’s focus on prioritising accessibility and inclusivity and have commended recent projects which allow everyone to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful locations.
Sunshine Coast Access Advisory Network (SCAAN) member and employee of Spinal Life Australia, Lachy Chapman said the region was home to some of the most incredible natural environments in the country.
“However, many locations remain challenging for some community members including those with a disability, the elderly, carers, people with prams, the vision impaired and those using mobility devices,” Mr Chapman said.
“But the recently opened Mooloolaba boardwalk is a fantastic start.”
The 200-metre accessible boardwalk, connecting the Alexandra Headland to the Esplanade, was opened last November and is part of the Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation project.
The project was included in a recent Spinal Life television segment promoting Australia and the Sunshine Coast as an accessible destination.
“I really appreciate the consideration given to wheelchair access and space for wheelchair users at Mooloolaba’s new boardwalk,” Mr Chapman said.
“Something as simple as being able to sit side-by-side with friends and family along the way with new accessible seating and viewing areas is encouraging to see.
“I’m really keen to see how the project’s future stages will build on this great work.”
Sunshine Coast Council is seeking community input on two Mooloolaba foreshore masterplan elements ahead of future works, including addressing the Loo with a View, its aged state and accessibility issues.
Residents and visitors are also being asked for feedback on the functions and facilities they value in this precinct.
“The Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation presents an incredible opportunity to address some of these challenges many people face and upgrade the area with world-class accessible amenities, including a Changing Places* facility,” Mr Chapman said.
SCAAN President Trevor Rice said while the Loo with a View had been improved over the years, there was still plenty to be done.
“I find it interesting the Loo with a View was designed for tourism, but it doesn’t provide fair access for everyone – including those with a disability,” Mr Rice said.
“In addition to improved access for wheelchairs, mobility devices and carers with prams, I’d also like to see more consideration for the vision impaired, like myself.”
The Australian Premises Standards have harmonised building compliance to be in line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which states that new buildings and upgrades of existing buildings must provide dignified and equitable facilities and services for people with a disability.
Sunshine Coast Council Community Portfolio Councillor David Law said it was more than just building code.
“The Federal Disability Discrimination Act provides protection for everyone in Australia against discrimination based on disability,” Cr Law said.
“The law places a legal obligation on the designers, owners and operators of all public, work and human spaces to ensure access is not conditional on a person’s ability.
“In addition, improving accessibility and inclusivity across our region is a high priority for council.
“The 25-year-old Loo with a View does not meet modern Universal Access* requirements and cannot be easily accessed by all, which is why council is seeking community feedback to explore its future.
“One of the most important questions is around ensuring the design provides equitable access for all users – people using prams, mobility walkers or wheelchairs or those who are vision impaired.
“In the lead-up to the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation provides an opportunity to deliver best practice, fully accessible public amenities that better serve our wider community and prepare the region for the world stage.
“One of the outcomes of the engagement will show how strongly, or not, the community values equitable access for all.
“This community engagement will determine how future Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation works progress so I really encourage everyone – residents and visitors – to have their say by Wednesday, May 4.”
Council is also asking for feedback on food and drink options in the Northern Parkland.
Have your say and complete the survey. You can also attend community feedback pop-up days at the Mooloolaba Foreshore on Saturday 9 and Saturday 23 April.
For details on the Mooloolaba Foreshore Revitalisation or to subscribe to project updates visit sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/mfr.