Our free program aims to break down barriers preventing people with disability from enjoying a day at the beach and has been strongly supported by the Port Melbourne and St Kilda Life Saving Clubs and Life Saving Victoria since 2017.
Port Melbourne Life Saving Club executive committee member Paul Mapley said the club’s volunteers are often touched by how much happiness the program is providing for residents and visitors.
“When you see someone in the wheelchair enjoying being in the water, sometimes for the first time in their life, you can get a bit damp behind your sunglasses,” Paul said.
The matting has provided even wider access than first anticipated as it is proving popular with older people, including some not using mobility aids, and parents who can bring their prams with them when they go down to the shoreline to keep an eye on their children.
“I had one man tell me he hadn’t been able to get to the water’s edge for years and now he loves going there with his grandchildren,” he said.
“There is a real feeling of inclusion which has enabled our beach to grow as a great destination for everyone.”
The wheelchairs and matting are used in the flag zone patrolled by life savers. Club volunteers are on hand to teach carers how to use the wheelchairs if it is their first dip.
Beach Access Program (November 2021 to April 2022)
Accessible Beach Matting
Available every day, except 4.30 am – 10.30 am on Tuesdays when beach cleaning is underway. No bookings required.
Mobi-Chair beach wheelchairs
St Kilda Life Saving Club
Location: 34 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda
Available: Saturday and Sunday during patrol times, 12 pm – 5 pm, 1.5 hour booking limit
Bookings essential: visit portphillip.vic.gov.au/accessible-beaches or phone 03 9209 6777
Port Melbourne Life Saving Club
Location: 38 Beaconsfield Parade, Port Melbourne
Available: Monday to Sunday during patrol times, 12 pm – 5 pm, 1.5 hour booking limit
Weekend bookings are essential: visit https://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/explore-the-city/beaches-parks-and-playgrounds/accessible-beaches or phone 03 9209 6777
Mid-week bookings: phone on the day 9646 8773 (patrol tower) or book ahead via https://www.portphillip.vic.gov.au/explore-the-city/beaches-parks-and-playgrounds/accessible-beaches
The St Kilda Life Saving Club includes a Victorian Government funded Changing Places facility. This facility has a height-adjustable, adult-sized changing bench, tracking hoist system and space for two people in a safe and clean environment.
An individual or carer wanting to use the St Kilda facility must have a Master Locksmiths Access Key (MLAK) which provides 24/7 access for people with a disability. Eligibility is restricted to those who have written authority from a doctor, disability organisation or community health centre. To purchase an MLAK, contact the Master Locksmiths Association on 1800 819 775.