MGAC Newsletter December 2022

Welcome to our December newsletter 

We’re rapidly approaching the end of another busy year. Especially as our Brisbane projects continue to ramp it. In particular, our work with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

In general, the MGAC team are ramping up the number of Brisbane staff, clients and projects we have on the go. A large focus for us is the 2032 Olympic Games, and how to make the legacy of the Games an inclusive and accessible one. It's also important to introduce and expand on Universal Design (UD) and its principles so they can be thoughtfully incorporated into any new or redevelopment projects.

With sites around Brisbane chosen, and more venues being finalised each month, the work to ensure the Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games leaves a positive legacy and inclusive legacy begins now. 

As it stands, Brisbane as a whole has a long way to go when it comes to accessibility. In a recent experiment, Paralympian Karni Liddel explored Brisbane’s (very hill in parts) streets to demonstrate why it’s such a headache to manoeuvre for those with mobility issues.

I regularly travel to Brisbane, even more so now since we’re slated to be involved with the Games, advising on how to improve the accessibility venue by venue, but also holistically as an entire lasting infrastructure for the city and all those who live in it and visit it.  

My most recent trip to Queensland was for this year’s DestinationQ Forum, the state’s leading tourism industry event. The annual event brings together government and industry leaders to consider the future of the industry. The most notable announcement by the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was the state government's commitment of $12 million for “Accessible Tourism”. The commitment is for the following outcomes:

  • Supporting small to medium size tourism and events businesses to develop or enhance accessibility for people of all abilities
  • Extending the Accessible Tourism in Queensland project, including top tourist destinations like Bundaberg, Capricorn, Gladstone, Mackay, Southern Queensland and the Whitsundays
  • Generating activities that raise awareness of accessibility needs and disability services support for visitors, workers and the community

As part of a panel, I spoke at DestinationQ to over 900 delegates  about all things accessibility, particularly for large-scale, international events – something we have a fair amount of experience with. 

Some of the key messages I wanted to get across include how National Construction Code (NCC) compliance is the absolute minimum that is required (something we’ve written about in depth here). However, we also need to aim for Universal Design and above standards accessibility outcomes. We need to create environments where accessible toilets, Changing Places amenities and all gender toilets are standard. We also need to start to consider the inclusion of parents/change rooms, quiet or sensory spaces, multi-faith rooms, accessible hotels and villages, and transport networks that are seamless. It’s an exciting time for international events in Australia with Victoria hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games. We are already starting to put together principles and technical requirements to ensure we are creating a lasting legacy before, during and after the Games in Melbourne as well.

Queensland has declared 2023 the Year of Accessible Tourism. But accessible tourism isn’t just for a year, it’s ideally something we integrate into our planning for generations to come. Accessible tourism is projected to be worth between $8-10 billion to the Australian economy, and is only growing as the population ages. Adding to accessible tourism is that in less than 10 years, the Paralympics alone will invite approximately 5,000 athletes, 10,000 technical officials and volunteers and sell an estimated 1.6 million tickets. The Olympics will almost be double to triple the Paralympic numbers in terms of participants, officials and Games family alone. These are all big numbers, and we need to have a plan for how to accommodate the diverse needs these international visitors will have.

We’re pleased to hear the anecdotal feedback for this proposal, and our perspective on accessibility requirements throughout the Games, was well-received. Thank you to the Queensland Government Department of Tourism, Innovation and Sport, Tourism and Events Queensland, and the Queensland Tourism Industry Council for the invite and the chance to have our say about Brisbane’s accessible future. If you want to listen to everything I had to say at the Forum, you’ll find a fill recording of it here: 

This has been another bumper year for the MGAC crew around the country, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. From Dave and myself, we want to say a huge thank you to our clients, our new partners at Jensen Hughes and of course, our staff. It’s been a wild 2022 and we’re looking forward to an even more cracking 2023. 

Nick Morris (Director) and David Goding (Director)

December 2022

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