ROLLING ON THE BEACH: Community Lifestyles Agency Business Manager Jess Lane (centre) with Bella Kupke (left) and Shelbie Adam (right) trialling the roll-out of the beach access mat.
ROLLING ON THE BEACH: Community Lifestyles Agency Business Manager Jess Lane (centre) with Bella Kupke (left) and Shelbie Adam (right) trialling the roll-out of the beach access mat. Blake Antrobus

Disability group rolls out new beach access mats

IN HER 27 years, Shelbie Adam hasn't been able to spend much time at the beach.

But the Hervey Bay woman, who has faced mobility challenges through her life, can now get right down to the water thanks to a new disability access mat from the council.

Ms Adam was joined by Community Lifestyles Agency and the Fraser Coast Regional Council to receive the 50m roll-up mat at the Hervey Bay Sailing Club yesterday.

The mat was gifted to the disability group after a unanimous council vote on Wednesday.

The group will now roll out the mat along the Fraser Coast's beaches more frequently than previous community groups could.

CLA business development manager Jess Lane said they would put it to good use.

"We're thrilled to have the privilege to get better access to the beach," Ms Lane said.

"At the moment we'll open it to community consultation to see on what frequency the mat needs to be used."

The council voted unanimously to transfer the ownership to CLA after concerns the mat wasn't being used to its full potential.

It was purchased in January last year after a number of trials along the region's beaches.

Community groups FSG Australia, Headspace, the Endeavour Foundation and CLA helped manage access with assistance from the council. But acting mayor George Seymour revealed the mat had only been used 10 times since last year.

"This is about opening the beach to people of all ages and abilities, no-one should be denied access because of a disability," Cr Seymour said.

The mat, which can be rolled down into the water from the shoreline, allows for people in wheelchairs or with disabilities to have easy access to the beach.

A location near Fishermans Park in Urangan has been selected as the new roll-out site. The council also offers the free use of two beach access wheelchairs in Burrum Heads and Hervey Bay.



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