The new Changing Places facility on Henley Beach, South Australia, has made the beach accessible 24/7 and provides safe and spacious changing rooms and toilets for people with disability or people with mobility issues.
Charles Sturt Council, where Henley beach is located, has just completed building the facility and arranging for beach mats to be available at all times, making the beach available for all.
One in five people in the City of Charles Sturt has a mobility issue, which is why it became a long term plan of the council to make the 12-kilometre coastline strip inclusive of everyone.
The Changing Places facility has an accessible toilet and adult changing space for people with high support needs and their carers.
The facility also has additional space, assistance and specialised equipment if required to help people use the toilets safely and with dignity.
City of Charles Sturt Mayor, Angela Evans, says, “In 2017 we held our first Accessible Beach Day in partnership with Accessible Beaches and Push Mobility.
“It was a fantastic success and after speaking with members of our community, we knew we had to do something to ensure everyone had the opportunity to enjoy the beach and not be isolated from their friends and families.
“Henley Beach is the ideal location for the Changing Places. We have a beautiful beach which now has a beach mat available any day or night as well as the free beach wheelchairs available for half day hire.
“There are also great cafes, restaurants and shops and knowing there is a clean, accessible facility nearby will be reassuring for those with a disability, their families and their carers.”
Community members and families with disability are pleased with the move by the council to make the beach a place for all.
Disability advocate, Rick Neagle, is happy with the new Changing Places facility and the accessibility of the beach.
He is the parent and carer to his son, Mitchell, and believes it will support the needs of his whole family.
“Mitchell loves being outside, playing soccer, going to the beach, the park and taking long walks. While he doesn’t have complex needs in regards to his disability, where there is a changing facility, he is able to use it to get changed safely and in private,” says Mr Neagle.
“Without a Changing Places [facility] you would normally have to use the toilets which is not the best place to change oneself. [Henley Beach] is a place now that he could stay here almost all day if he chose to do that.
“[This facility] makes me feel great. As a father of two children, it makes me feel included and makes me feel [that] Mitchell’s included.”
On 19 October, the newly accessible Henley Beach will be officially opened by Mayor Angela Evans.
For more information about the new Accessible Beach, head to the Charles Sturt Council website.