People with disabilities are being locked out of our beaches, say Greens


Greens representatives from all three levels of government have today launched a plan to pay for accessibility upgrades on local beaches, as analysis from Accessible Beaches suggests that there is not a single beach in the Northern Rivers that is fully accessible to people with disabilities. The Greens launched the plan at Seven Mile Beach alongside Joel Taylor, World Para Surfing Champ and 2023 Ballina Shire Citizen of the Year.

NSW Greens spokesperson for Disability Rights and Inclusion, Abigail Boyd, wants to see $25 million of dedicated funding in the next NSW budget to assist Councils with accessibility upgrades to beaches across the state.

Ms Boyd has toured beaches in the Northern Rivers today, alongside Greens candidate for Richmond Mandy Nolan, Ballina Shire Councillor Kiri Dicker and Byron Shire Council candidate Elia Hauge.

The Greens will also be moving motions on Ballina and Byron Shire Council encouraging greater disability access to local beaches, and Mandy Nolan has also called on the federal Labor government to contribute funding toward accessible beaches.

Abigail Boyd, Greens NSW MP and Spokesperson for Disability Rights and Inclusion said

“Everyone deserves to access and enjoy our State’s beautiful beaches. But as a result of decades of failure from all levels of government, people with disability are excluded from everyday activities the rest of us on the coastline take for granted.

“Right now, the responsibility lies solely on individual local councils and surf life saving clubs to fund accessible beaches, with support from the state or federal government limited to small pots of ad hoc general grants programs.

“The cost of funding beach matting, beach accessible wheelchairs and sand and erosion management is a significant cost for councils that are already struggling under the oppressive cost-shifting agenda of the state government.

“The Greens are calling on the NSW Labor Government to invest in making our beaches fully accessible for people with disability and older people. It’s time for Labor to step up and finally listen to the calls of people with disability by committing to fund fully accessible beaches.”

Mandy Nolan, Greens candidate for Richmond said,

“Our beautiful beaches are the heart and soul of the Northern Rivers region. It’s unconscionable to think that older people and people in wheelchairs have been missing out on the chance to enjoy our spectacular coast, purely because of failures from government.

Our current Labor member has been in power for two decades, and in that time there hasn’t been a single beach in the Richmond electorate that people in wheelchairs can access autonomously.

People with disabilities are fed up with the absentee leadership - they deserve a federal Member who is actually talking about solutions.

That’s why the Greens are working across all three levels of government to finally make sure that everyone in our community can enjoy a day at the beach”

Kiri Dicker, Greens Ballina Shire Councillor for Ward B said,

“Going to the beach is a way of life for coastal dwellers. There is nothing better at the end of a bad day than going for a dip in the ocean. It’s fundamentally unfair that we would design public spaces in a way that offers that opportunity to some people but not others.

Councils need to embrace the principles of universal design when it comes to beach access and the State Government needs to come to the table with the funding to make it happen.”

Elia Hauge, Greens Byron Shire Council candidate said,

“We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world in Byron Shire and the Northern Rivers. A day at the beach should not be a luxury for the able-bodied. People with a disability have the same rights as everyone else to use our beautiful beaches, but the reality is that none of our beaches are accessible.

Accessible beaches means so much more than just a mat or a ramp. Byron beaches are in desperate need of better accessible parking and safe access, permanent beach wheelchairs, and accessible bathrooms and changing facilities.

We have an active and engaged community with accessibility needs who are tired of being pushed from department to department trying to make our beaches accessible for all. The Greens will continue to work across all levels of government to ensure there is funding and accountability to make Byron’s beaches accessible.”