Malabar Beach has become the first beach in Sydney with permanent wheelchair access as part of a project by Randwick City Council, the Lions Club and the Rainbow Club Australia.
The 60-metre long specially designed mat has been installed over the sand providing easier access for wheelchair users to reach the water’s edge – just in time for summer. The matting is a permanent fixture available seven days a week, all year ‘round.
Randwick Mayor Kathy Neilson said the project provides equality for people in wheelchairs.
“This is a small project which will make a big difference. We all enjoy a swim at the beach on a hot day – and this matting improves ocean accessibility for people in wheelchairs. I’m really proud that Council has been able to work with the community to get this improvement in place.”
The project is partly funded through a NSW State Government grant obtained by the Lions Club. “Coogee Lions is focussed on giving back to the community and making a difference in people’s lives,” said President of Coogee Lions, David Morgan. “It’s critically important that everyone can make use of our beautiful beaches. This matting not only will assist people in wheelchairs but also the elderly and parents with prams.”
The Rainbow Club Australia, which provides swimming lessons for children with a disability believe they will get great use from the matting. “I’m delighted that the matting will be in place for the 2019 Malabar Magic Ocean Swim,” said Rainbow Club General Manager Catriona Barry. “The event is an inclusive ocean swim that welcomes all swimmers, especially those with a disability. The matting will make access easier for those who find it difficult to get across the sand to the water’s edge.”
The self-anchored wheelchair matting, manufactured by Mobi-mat, is made from 100% recycled plastic and designed to ensure a smooth ride all the way to hard sand.
Malabar Beach was chosen for the project given its protection from ocean swell and relative calmness – meaning the matting can be kept in place year round. The beach is also home to an Ocean Pool which is fully wheelchair accessible.