Welcome to our August Newsletter,
The first half of 2021 has simply flown by! Despite the enduring COVID-19 situation throughout many parts of Australia, the MGAC team is busier than ever before. We are so grateful to be servicing exciting projects all around the country, and to be able to witness our international efforts come to life.
As I write this, the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo are underway. Additionally, the 2032 Olympic Games have been awarded to Brisbane. I was lucky enough to assist the bid, writing a small part of the bid book for the bid team. As an athlete at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000, I saw first-hand how Australia set a very high benchmark for culture, training and infrastructure development for accessibility and paralympic sports at major events. In 2018, the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games continued this internally renowned high standard.
While 2032 may seem like a long time away, in reality it only gives us 11 years to improve what we had achieved previously at both these internationally recognised events. At MGAC, we are eagerly looking forward to playing a role in this important work as the opportunities arise in the future.
On a personal note, my family and I decided to take a 10-week break, pack a camper trailer and head up the East Coast of Australia. Starting in Melbourne in April, the trip saw us traverse 11,000 kilometres all the way to Cape Tribulation in Far North Queensland and back. Along the way we visited and stayed at over 30 towns and cities - it was an adventure for all of us! I was also particularly interested in experiencing the accommodation at all locations from an accessibility perspective.
Before we started out, planning was essential - accessibility can be hit and miss, even at the best of times. The first trial of the camper, we booked a caravan park that said they were accessible. As it turns out, the amenities block had no accessibility features. However, according to the park managers, they had another guy in a wheelchair stay here without any complaints, so they “...assumed it was ok!” Unfortunately, assumptions usually don’t cut it when it comes to accessibility.
As much as we would have loved to be spontaneous with our travel arrangements, it became clear very quickly that we needed professional help to ensure accessibility was part of every accommodation option. Luckily, we had Bill Forrester at TravAbility available to organise both caravan parks with accessible amenities and also accessible cabins. Regrettably, not everyone with accessibility needs has access to this level of support.
Across the board, the most notable concern was the significant difference between what is perceived to be accessible, even when you have someone researching it thoroughly. As someone with a disability, the most pressing issue I encountered was inaccessible showers and shower seats. Fortunately, we overcame this barrier by bringing my own on the road.
Throughout this thoroughly memorable trip, there were two clear stand-out highlights. One was Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure in Cairns, the other being Quicksilver Reef adventure. Thanks to some careful planning and accessibility consideration, there was no element of Hartley’s tourist offering that I couldn’t enjoy, including the Lagoon boat ride. Similarly, the Quicksilver reef pontoon, while not independently accessible for some of the ramps, had a hoist that lowered and raised me into and out of the water. On the flip side, the biggest disappointment was Fraser Island. While the island had a number of new accessible toilet blocks installed, they were only accessible via sand pathways.
Despite the varying experiences along the way, I can safely say that anyone with an accessibility need - with a little planning -will be able to travel and enjoy the East coast of Australia.
With the majority of Australia in a lockdown due to the ongoing pandemic, MGAC wishes to extend the opportunity to create Teams or Zoom meetings or workshops with all our clients to talk through any proposed or existing project developments. On behalf of my partner, David Goding, and the entire MGAC team we hope the later part of 2021 is smooth sailing.
Nick Morris (Director) and David Goding (Director)