Beach Access for All
June 13 2023
The Gold Coast is known for having world-class beaches where locals and visitors alike love to spend their time. Yet reaching the water’s edge is not so simple for those with impaired mobility.
To help make our beaches accessible and inclusive to all, community service organisation Volunteering Gold Coast has established the Accessible Beaches Program, which Kollosche is proud to be supporting through its Community Fund.
The Kollosche Community Fund was established in 2021 as a way for the business to give back to the local communities in which it operates. A percentage of every sale feeds into the fund to provide sponsorship, donations and support to a number of causes that make a positive difference in the community.
The Ocean is for Everyone
By providing beach mats and specialised wheelchairs, the Accessible Beaches Program and its volunteers help to facilitate a safe and clear pathway to the water’s edge for those with mobility issues.
The equipment is made available at participating surf clubs every weekend of the summer surf lifes saving patrol season, which runs from September to May.
The program’s General Manager George Thie says a team of dedicated volunteers are on-site every week to help set up the mats, care for participants, and ensure that they have an enjoyable experience at the beach.
George says it allows participants, some for the very first time, to enjoy the sand and surf in way that many of us take for granted.
“By accessing the water’s edge with the help of the volunteers and the beach mats, their lives are changed forever,” he says.
Four years on from the when the first beach mat was rolled out at Surfers Paradise Beach in 2019, Volunteering Gold Coast now provides mats and equipment at Mermaid Beach, Surfers Paradise, Ian Dipple Lagoon and Neptune RLSC, with four further accessible beaches also running at Broadbeach, Burleigh, Nobby Beach and Southport.
George says an absence of government funding for the program means the support of Kollosche and other local businesses is crucial in keeping it operational.
Kollosche’s contribution has enabled Volunteering Gold Coast to fund the equipment necessary to meet workplace health and safety standards for the program’s volunteers and participants throughout the 2022-23 summer surf season.
Kollosche Managing Director Michael Kollosche say the business is delighted to support the initiative, which provides a vital community service.
“The beach is such an important part of the lifestyle here on the Gold Coast, so it’s great to be able to support a cause that makes that lifestyle accessible to everyone within the community,” he says.
Volunteering Gold Coast hopes to continue the Accessible Beaches Program when the next season starts in September.
With $50,000 per year needed to keep the program operational across eight Gold Coast beaches, George is encouraging more businesses to take Kollosche’s lead and support the initiative.
“Any financial contribution would help us to sustain, develop and promote the program for the next season, as well as recruit new volunteers,” he says.
“Volunteering Gold Coast’s vision is to have the mats and volunteer support at every beach on the Gold Coast. It’s simply about making beach-going an inclusive activity.”
If you would like to support the Accessible Beaches Program, contact Volunteering Gold Coast on 07 5526 0688.
A volunteer helps George Cunningham who has Cerebral Palsy to enjoy the water.
‘I love being in the water’
One person who has experienced the positive impact of the Accessible Beaches program first-hand is George Cunningham.
George was born with Cerebral Palsy, a disorder that affects his lower limbs and restricts his ability to walk.
Moving from England to Australia in 2008, George has always loved the beach, but admits he didn’t visit as often as he would have liked because accessing the water was such a “mission” with his normal wheelchair.
That all changed when he found the accessible beaches program.
“I first got involved with the program at Surfers Paradise beach about three years ago and now I try to get there as often as I can,” says George.
A volunteer helps George reach the water via a wheelchair with inflatable wheels, and supports him as he floats, swims and walks.
Not only does the Accessible Beaches program allow him to partake in an activity that he loves, George says being able to access the water has brought him huge emotional, mental and physical benefits.
“I love being in the water, I feel great. It’s the one time where my Cerebral Palsy doesn’t really affect me – it relaxes my muscles and helps with my pain, so it’s very beneficial to me.”
Reach out to the Kollosche Community Fund if you are seeking support for your charitable organisation.