Beach-goers of all abilities will be able to enjoy time in the sand and surf with Bundaberg Regional Council set to fund a beach disability access project led by CQUniversity.
As part of the 2021-22 Council budget' Council has proposed to allocate more than $30'000 to a Mobi-Chair' beach matting and beach matting roll and stow for the community to use for free.
The Mobi-Chair is designed with a folding frame and large inflatable wheels and arm rests that allow the device to become buoyant in the water.
Council will work with CQUniversity Physiotherapy lecturer and researcher Sasha Job and other key stakeholders to deliver the disability beach access within the next 12 months.
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said the project funding had come to fruition after Sasha's most recent study The U-Beach: Tides of Change had shone a spotlight on the importance of beach accessibility.
"Like Sasha' I believe the beach is a wonderful place that everyone should be able to enjoy'"
"With the addition of this new equipment' people of all abilities' including those with mobility limitations and the elderly' will have the opportunity to visit our beautiful beaches.
"We know that spending time in the great outdoors is imperative to keeping our mental health in check and this new equipment will ensure no one misses out on the positive feeling a day at our beautiful beach areas offer."
All ability access to the beach has been the subject of Ms Job's study for the past year' with the Bundaberg researcher collating data from local residents living with a disability to determine ways to enhance their lives through movement.
Ms Job recently shared her research' and the story behind her passion for beach accessibility' on CQUniversity's podcast How to Change a Life.
She said U-Beach aimed to break down the participation and social challenges associated with beach access and provide physical activity opportunities for everyone.
"Through innovative' inclusive and supportive strategies we are able to provide beach accessibility and support flexible options for physical activity that meet the needs of diverse lifestyles' abilities' and interests'"
"It will be an honour to welcome all individuals to our beautiful beaches and to witness the pure joy on their faces.
"After all' research demonstrates that green spaces improve happiness' general well-being' health and brain function."
U-Beach is a project driven by CQUniversity' in collaboration with Bundaberg Regional Council' Surf Lifesaving Queensland' Community Lifestyle Support' and Rotary Bundaberg Region' as well as local education providers and sporting clubs.
Last month' Ms Job also showcased the project at the Bundaberg Regional Promotion Night at Queensland Parliament.
"As part of my presentation I arranged a 360-degree virtual reality experience that was filmed band supported by Daryl Clare and Michael Cowling from our Brisbane campus'"
"Our state politicians were seated in a wheelchair and then experienced accessing the beach from the perspective of a person with a disability – it was very enlightening and clearly communicated our message about the benefits of universal beach access."