The ACT Government has opened the first wheelchair-accessible barbeques in the ACT ahead of the summer season, but a disability advocate group has turned the heat on the government, questioning why they took so long.
New wheelchair accessible barbeques have been installed at two of Canberra’s most popular summer hotspots, Pine Island and the Cotter Bend, to ensure Canberra’s parks and reserves are more inclusive for everyone.
When it came time to replace the old barbecues at Pine Island and Cotter Bend, ACT Parks and Conservation Service director Justin Foley said it was a great opportunity to install facilities that are more accessible to everyone.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy Canberra’s many parks and reserves so this is just one of the many ways our team is helping Canberrans and other visitors explore Canberra’s outstanding natural environment,” Mr Foley said.
“ACT Parks and Conservation Service is always dedicated to connecting visitors and locals with nature and helping them explore Canberra’s many parks and reserves.”
ACT Minister for Disability Suzanne Orr said the new barbeques demonstrated the ACT Government’s commitment to creating a more accessible and inclusive community in a public space that many Canberrans take for granted.
“This initiative by the ACT Parks and Conservation team is a great example of how we can make everyday facilities more accessible for everyone to enjoy,” Ms Orr said.
“We know that one-in-five people in our community experience some form of disability, and everyone at some stage in their lives will find themselves with a permanent, situational or age-related access need.
“We are making Canberra’s parks and reserves more wheelchair friendly and with the weather getting warmer, now is the perfect time to head out to Pine Island and the Cotter Bend with family and friends to test them out.”
While People with Disabilities ACT (PWD ACT) welcomed the new facilities, executive officer Rachel Sirr said she was looking forward to a Canberra where there is no need to have an announcement about a wheelchair-accessible BBQ.
“The new BBQs show the ACT Government is on the right track but it should just be the norm to include one,” Ms Sirr said. “The ACT Government must build accessibility into all infrastructure and developments, not just as an afterthought.
“We hope that these BBQs are the start of many more inclusive outdoor spaces, so people with disabilities can go anywhere or do anything that people without a disability can.”