Beach for All

11 February 2016
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Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:31 ): On Australia Day 2016, Seacliff Beach in the heart of my electorate, became South Australia's first accessible beach. 

This was the result of Beach for All, a community movement which saw internet-based crowd funding raise $10,000 to pay for a moveable pathway which extends from the esplanade at Seacliff in front of the Seacliff Hotel across the soft sand towards the water's edge.

The mat which comes in several rolls of interlocking plastic, is the first of its type in Australia. It is now being rolled out at Seacliff during surf lifesaving patrols, 1pm to 5pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays until Easter.

Beach for All started as an image on social media. I was tagged in an example of a pathway on a beach overseas and so I took time to investigate it. I immediately felt that this was something we should have in South Australia and it would be even better if it could happen in my electorate. This was a project that would have huge benefits and it needed to be delivered quickly. I approached Surf Life Saving South Australia and Seacliff Surf Life Saving Club to see if they would be willing to be partners in this project. They agreed and it was full steam ahead.

A crowd funding website was established and promoted in the local community. The community caught the vision and were quick to give. Donations rolled in, many from individuals, but others from community groups, service clubs and businesses. In 16 short weeks, this project went from being an image on social media to being a solid surface rolled out across Seacliff beach that Charlie Rowland, a 17-year-old Seacliff Park resident and spinal atrophy sufferer, was able to travel down as our inaugural user.

There is no doubt in my mind that when Charlie travelled down the Beach for All pathway at Seacliff, this was the most impacting moment of my career in parliament. There are a number of significant people who I would like to thank for their involvement in this project: Andrew Chandler, President of Seacliff Surf Life Saving Club and recently named City of Holdfast Bay Australia Day Citizen of the Year, who embraced the project and brought his club along on the journey; Claire Harris, Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving South Australia who saw the vision and cleared any barriers out of the way. Her no-nonsense approach to leadership is a breath of fresh air and the partnership with Surf Life Saving South Australia was phenomenal.

The Rotary Club of Brighton which was wound up in 2015, provided the balance of their funds, a total of $5,000 to Beach for All. Their contribution provided half of the total funds needed and made a huge difference to the project. Special thanks to Alison and Mark Rogers for their commitment to this project. The City of Holdfast Bay which donated $1,000; the Lions Club of Hallett Cove and Districts which donated $500; Jane and James Hall from enerG+ Personal Training who raised $500 through Workout for a Cause with a group of 25 or so people, me included, at Seacliff early one Saturday morning; Susan Craig of Solarsuit Australia who donated 10 percent of her company's December/January net profits; and of course the many people, local residents and those from further afield who made donations, big and small, via our My Cause crowd funding website.

Beach for All has become a social media sensation. My office has received inquiries from all over the world about how we went about making this project a reality. It has changed lives and, having visited the pathway on several occasions, it has been amazing and emotional to watch people visit the beach for the first time in their lives and to feel the salt water lap over their feet.

Seacliff beach may be the first accessible beach in South Australia, but, Deputy Speaker, I am certain it will not be the last. Something good has begun.

Something good has begun.

Extracted from Hansard