Little Beach for all: Community celebrates accessibility and inclusion improvements

Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington with Port Stephens Council’s events cadet Annabelle Miranda at Council’s information tent.

AN event celebrating accessibility improvements to facilities at Little Beach proved popular with locals and visitors last Saturday.

The event doubled as the launch of Port Stephens Council’s new Wellbeing Strategy.

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The Little Beach precinct has undergone a significant transformation in recent months, notably including the installation of a fully accessible ‘Changing Places’ toilet featuring a sling and adult changing table.

Other improvements include new beach wheelchairs, and an accessible playground and pathways.

News Of The Area caught up with Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington moments before the community event kicked off.

“I have the privilege of not only being the Member for Port Stephens but also the NSW Minister for Disability and Inclusion, so today is really special, because we are making sure that Port Stephens is a destination for everyone,” said Ms Washington.

“We’re making sure that our community is accessible and inclusive for people with disability, but also welcoming and kind to everyone who comes here.

“This is a significant investment from the State Government, almost $4 million through different initiatives that Port Stephens Council has now delivered on the ground here, to make this area more accessible.

“It’s just so important that we’re doing this right across the State, but to see it being done here in Port Stephens, and being done so well, is really special.”

Mayor Ryan Palmer said the upgrades are part of a broader commitment to making Port Stephens a place where wellbeing is prioritised, and people can lead happy, healthy and connected lives no matter their age, background or ability.

“Our new Community Wellbeing Strategy focuses on creating inclusive places, making sure our public spaces feel safe and accessible for all, which has been a key focus of the Little Beach upgrades,” Mayor Palmer said.

“The new ‘Changing Places’ fully accessible toilet, sling, adult changing table and beach wheelchairs allow people with high support needs to enjoy the beach.

“Extended pathways, an accessible playground and upgrades are also an important part of implementing the strategy.

“We want more people with disabilities, their families and their carers to be able to enjoy the beautiful beaches we have in Port Stephens.

“That’s why we’re prioritising projects like this, to improve the quality of life for people living with a disability,” Mayor Palmer added.

The event was launched by Deputy Mayor Leah Anderson, who introduced local Worimi Elder Uncle John Ridgeway, who conducted his renowned Welcome to Country followed by his famous Worimi song.

The Smoking Ceremony was conducted by Uncle John’s son, Justin Ridgeway, signifying the start of a community event worthy of the significant media and local dignitaries’ attention.

Several marquees were set up, including St Philip’s Dynamic Learning College initiative, who provided free games and information for the local community.

Other stalls included the Marine Rescue volunteers’ food and drinks van, Port Stephens Council and NSW Maritime Safety information tents, face painting and even a smoothie bike station.

With the weather holding out to provide a great backdrop to the live music and entertainment, smiles were abundant at the day’s successful event.

By Simon EKINS

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