CQUniversity-led project U-Beach has been named Best Community Program at the 2023 Australian Disability Service Awards.
Hosted by One Community at Melbourne's Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Australian Disability Service Conference and Awards (ADSCA) recognised the achievements of U-Beach in improving beach accessibility and inclusion for individuals with disabilities.
Physiotherapy lecturer Sasha Job at CQUniversity Bundaberg, and the driving force behind the U-Beach project, expressed immense pride in the program's achievements.
“The beach is the heart and soul of Australian coastal communities and U-Beach is helping to make this available to everyone by providing a standard for universal beach access,” she said.
“Through advocacy, equipment and training programs, local council consultations and inclusive beach days, we are working to make waves in fostering accessibility and inclusion.”
The Best Community Program award is a testament to the impactful work being done by the U-Beach project team, specifically recognising U-Beach as a leader in community-based organisations (non-NDIS providers) for showcasing inclusive practices in the disability service sector.
“Winning this award has demonstrated the power of collaboration and innovation in creating positive change,” Sasha said.
“It shows us that our work is appreciated and that we are creating an impact within the community.”
Disability access improved with U-Beach
The U-Beach initiative is a collaborative effort involving CQUniversity, Bundaberg Regional Council, Surf Lifesaving Queensland, Community Lifestyle Support, Rotary Bundaberg Region and community education providers and sporting clubs.
As the project aims to inform a standard and make it easier for regions around Australia to prioritise accessible beaches, Ms Job has also worked in consultation and training for a range of organisations and regions including Agnes Water, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, Tannum Sands.
Sasha Job said the overall project was not just about providing physical access to the Australian coast but also about creating a cultural shift towards inclusivity.
“We collaborate with individuals and partners on initiatives aimed at enhancing beach accessibility and promoting inclusion that caters to people of diverse ages, abilities and backgrounds,” she said.
“I hope this new recognition will only strengthen our work in improving of beach accessibility, ensuring that the beach is an inclusive space for everyone to enjoy.”
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