More inclusive experience at Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach

Rip Curl Pro sensory map.jpg

There has been a wave of support to foster a more inclusive and accessible Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach this year, thanks to a team effort by Surf Coast Shire Council and Surfing Victoria.

Sensory friendly festival initiatives have been introduced for the 2023 World Surf League event. It is headlined by a sensory map for the Bells Beach site, which identifies areas of low, medium and high stimulation and promotes sensory parking permits to ensure parking is close to an exit point.

A social script has also been developed, to explain the Rip Curl Pro to children who have autism or learning disorders. The social script helps them learn ways of behaving in social situations.

Surf Coast Shire Councillor Mike Bodsworth welcomed the initiatives, which complement the accessibility features of the event already in place – accessible paths of travel and the accessible viewing platform.

“As a Council we’re committed to access and inclusion for all, so that everyone can participate,” he said. “We want to be responsive to the needs and aspirations of people with a disability and their families, which has been achieved by working hand-in-hand with Surfing Victoria to expand on the great inclusion focus they have for this major international event.

“It’s great to see that Surfing Victoria has created an ‘accessibility’ tab on their Rip Curl Pro website homepage, so it’s front and centre for patrons.”

Surfing Victoria CEO Adam Robertson said that the Rip Curl Pro strives to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy watching the world-class event.

“The Rip Curl Pro has a long history of accessibility and inclusion at the Rip Curl Pro, however we know that we can always do more,” Adam said.

“It’s been great to work with Surf Coast Shire Council on improving the accessibility of the Rip Curl Pro, along with the introduction of some new sensory friendly elements to support people to attend the event.”

Meanwhile, Surf Coast Shire Council will light up Wurdi Baierr Stadium in Torquay blue this April to mark World Autism Awareness Month. It’s an initiative of the All Abilities Advisory Committee, aligning with the theme “standing together to make a world of difference for people on the spectrum”.

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