'Life is for participating not spectating': Mandurah provides better access for people with a disability

Volunteer Stephanie White and Flynn the story dog help reluctant or struggling readers to build confidence in reading out loud. Photo: Supplied.
Volunteer Stephanie White and Flynn the story dog help reluctant or struggling readers to build confidence in reading out loud. Photo: Supplied.

Plans are in the pipeline to improve Smart Street Mall, put new toilets and a play space at the Western Foreshore, and a new skate park and estuary pool on the Mandurah Foreshore, all designed to be more accessible for people with a disability.

The plans continue on from several changes made by the City of Mandurah in 2019 to improve access and inclusion.

This included sensory rest stops, making some key public buildings easier to access, inclusive sporting opportunities, dementia friendly resources and inclusive art classes.

The City last year provided sensory rest stop spaces at the Children's Festival, My Park Grooves, Homelessness Awareness Week, and Wellness Wednesday.

City community development officer Fiona Allen said the sensory spaces benefited everyone, not just people with disabilities.

"We had a sensory rest stop for people who have sensory processing needs at our Children's Festival," she said.

"We had a situation where a sibling needed the sensory space to chill out because of the busyness of the festival but the other siblings reported it was their favourite place at the festival.

"It was designed for disability but everyone benefited from the inclusion."

The City made a ramp access to a beach shelter at San Remo beach. Photo: Supplied.

The City made a ramp access to a beach shelter at San Remo beach. Photo: Supplied.

Beyond making events a better experience for those with disabilities, the City also worked to improve access to buildings and beaches, and libraries worked hard to be inclusive.

"Mandurah libraries continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to providing a welcoming environment for people with disability, through initiatives, which include 'Story Dogs' and dementia friendly resources," the City report read.

The team at the Mandurah library put together picture-heavy adult books and 'Make with Me Packs' for dementia residents to help stimulate their memory.

Library team members were also approached by community members explaining that the resources provided inclusive opportunities to other community members including people with autism.

Mandurah libraries also introduced 'Story Dogs' to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to build confidence and interest in reading by giving them the opportunity to read to dogs.

Sports in Mandurah provided inclusion opportunities such as a wheelchair rugby session. Photo: Supplied.

Sports in Mandurah provided inclusion opportunities such as a wheelchair rugby session. Photo: Supplied.

Sports also worked hard to be inclusive with the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre (MARC) hosting a talent search Wheelchair Rugby League session in February.

There a now plans to explore opportunities for further wheelchair sport events to be held at the MARC.

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'Life is for participating not spectating' is a focus of the City's 2015-2020 Access and Inclusion Plan, the progress of which was reported on at last month's council meeting.

With the current plan ending in December, the Mandurah community is invited to help shape the new five-year plan through a survey and a series of online and face-to-face consultation sessions.

People can register for the online and face-to-face sessions, and complete the survey via mandurahmatters.com.au.