The beach is Australia’s most popular recreation destination, but for 45 per cent of people with a disability it is impossible to access the beach.
CQUniversity’s U-BEACH project is a collaborative community-led team striving to improve beach accessibility and ensure people with disability enjoy their highest attainable standard of health and wellbeing.
The team at U-BEACH are committed to working with people and partners on projects that improve beach accessibility and inclusion in beach-based activities for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. We collaborate to conduct socially innovative research, provide real-world education and training, and host inclusive community beach events.
U-BEACH works closely with government and industry stakeholders to achieve some amazing things for people with a disability including:
- providing accessible beach equipment for beach days, cultural festivals, Australia Day celebrations, sporting events and weddings
- working with local councils on how to improve beach accessibility
- developing inclusive beach safety protocols and training, and
- raising funds to support the provision of equipment and training.
Finalists: Ms Sasha Job, Dr Steven Obst, Dr Luke Heales
"Not being able to visit the beach makes me feel trapped, sad and frustrated. Last time I tried to visit the beach I got stuck in a quicksand hole. Previous attempts had also resulted in me falling and needing to crawl back to safety. I miss being able to visit the beach. There is no other experience that compares to being in the salt water. While I had some fear at first, I knew I had support from the volunteers to get into the ocean. It was a refreshing, liberating and freeing experience. Speaking with the volunteers even educated me on ways I might be able to visit a beach closer to my house. I loved being able to attend and be at future U-Beach events with bells on."
Kathryn Tolstoï (age 60)
“My name is Byron Mulligan and I am the President of Heart of Agnes Community Association Inc. in Agnes Water QLD. We are blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the State, and on seeing the incredible work of U-Beach in Bundaberg, we had to learn more. Sasha Job was a wealth of knowledge and experience that inspired our own community to do the same, and only 7 months later we had raised the funds required to purchase our own Mobi-Mat and mobility equipment for Agnes Water’s Main Beach. Sasha supported our process the entire way with her technical knowledge and first-hand experience with the equipment. It is our pleasure to say the Main Beach Mobi-Mat has been an outstanding success since its first roll-out in September this year, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of Sasha and the U-Beach project.”
President, HOACA Inc.
"It’s been several years since I have been able to feel the ocean water. I do picnic by the ocean quite a bit, but I have had limited access to the beach until now. It was pretty special yesterday and I thoroughly enjoyed being on the beach again. I became a land lover just three years ago after living in my boat for 20 years. I had heard about the (U-Beach) morning and at first I was just going to be an observer, but when I was there and I saw the support that was offered I decided why not? I am so glad I gave it ago. It was a really good day; I am looking forward to using the equipment again and also going for a swim next time. I am thankful the U-Beach Community Beach Day project catered not only for the disabled community, but also helped elderly people enjoy the beach once again.”
Murray Stevens (age 91)