Disabled access push for beach

Toby HusseyAlbany Advertiser
A disabled surfing event at Middleton Beach this month.
Camera IconA disabled surfing event at Middleton Beach this month. Credit: Jessica Cuthbert

Disability support advocates are calling for an access path to be installed at Middleton Beach, claiming those living with a disability are being excluded.

Disabled Surfing Association of Australia Great Southern president Kerry Oakley has been taking steps for a beach-access path to be laid at Albany’s most popular beach, after two recent all-abilities surfing events.

A mobile beach access path from Emu Point has been temporarily moved to Middleton Beach for the events.

However, Ms Oakley said the City should include a permanent beach path as part of its $9 million Middleton Beach upgrades.

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“Our committee, people who have come to our events and the public can’t understand why there isn’t a permanent matting at Middleton Beach for people with disabilities,” she said.

“Bunbury have just put another one down ... Dongara put matting on their beach; the City of Albany – why can’t they do it at Middleton Beach?”

Ms Oakley said the path, which would provide access for wheeled vehicles to the waterline, could be used by others including the elderly and parents with young children in prams.

She estimated the cost to be between $15,000 and $20,000.

The idea caught the attention of Albany councillor Rebecca Stephens and member for Albany Peter Watson.

Ms Stephens called on the City to consider the proposal at its February 26 council meeting.

“We should be seen as an all-ability community,” she said.

“I think we need to be putting in disability beach matting before we’re putting in a new rotunda, new seats or trees.

“That should be part of the (Middleton Beach foreshore upgrades) and if it isn’t, why and where can we possibly fund it from.”

Mr Watson urged the City to get behind the plan.

“Middleton Beach is Albany’s most popular beach and it should be accessible for people in wheelchairs,” he said.

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