Accessible fishing boat for Mandurah an Australian first, says new Local Legend

Mandurah's latest Local Legend is excited for an Australian first coming to Mandurah in a few weeks.

Disability advocate Gary Russell-Brown says Mandurah will be home to the the first purpose-designed and purpose- built boat to take people with a disability fishing.

"It's an achievement for Mandurah," Mr Russell-Brown said when he was awarded the status at the Mandurah council meeting last week. "I hope the boat at 9.5m is big enough, that's all."

He was awarded for his work with a number of groups and projects that support people with disability, including the Mandurah Fishability program, which aims to get people with disability involved in recreational fishing.

The new accessible twin pontoon boat is expected to add to the enjoyment of participants and volunteers.

"Fishing is one of the highest participation outdoor activities in Australia," Mr Russell-Brown told the council meeting. "Being part of it all is great."

The Fishability program kicked off in Mandurah 10 years ago, with all ages from primary school students to people in their 80s joining in and casting a line.

Mr Russell-Brown has been involved right from the start.

There are five local schools which include Fishability as part of the education support curriculum, allowing students to experience the joy of fishing in a safe and welcoming environment.

Other Local Legends of Mandurah:

Mr Russell-Brown is a life member of the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club (MOFSC), a member of the City of Mandurah's Access and Inclusion Advisory Group, and has previously been involved with the Association for the Blind and Guide Dogs WA.

Mr Russell-Brown was instrumental in reintroducing the Sail Into Life program at MOFSC, which is a partnership between the sailing club and the combined Rotary Clubs of Mandurah to help people with disability to enjoy sailing.

Mayor Rhys Williams said Mr Russell-Brown was a passionate advocate and ally for people with disability, who devoted his time to making Mandurah even more inclusive.

"Gary is one of those really special people in our community who puts his whole heart into making people's lives better," Mayor Williams said.

"Over the years he's dedicated his time and energy into improving the quality of life for people with disability, and lending a helping hand to those who need it.

Local legend: Gary Russell-Brown receives his award from Mayor Rhys Williams. Photo: City of Mandurah.

Local legend: Gary Russell-Brown receives his award from Mayor Rhys Williams. Photo: City of Mandurah.

"Gary goes out of his way to help people learn new skills, connect with their community and enjoy activities on our beautiful waterways. He is a wonderful community member and a very deserving Local Legend winner."

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