ACCESS to Orange Aquatic Centre will be all inclusive from next year after Disability Services Minister John Ajaka announced funding for lift and change facilities.
Mr Ajaka was in Orange on Tuesday to announce $35,000 in matched funding to extend one of the existing changerooms on the pool deck and add a change table and swing hoist allowing pool users with disabilities to be lifted out of their wheelchairs and into the pool wheelchair belonging to the aquatic centre.
It is part of Lift and Change Facilities Trial underway through Local Government NSW and the Spinal Cord Injuries Association.
Anson Street School principal Melanie Meers said the facility would cater for the 10 per cent of students who currently could not use the pool.
“It will be great to be able to offer sport to all students,” she said.
Students Joseph Peters and Olivia Cavalli said they looked forward to enjoying the pool with their friends.
Mr Ajaka said the state was going through a big transition with the National Disability Insurance Scheme and by June 30 2018, people with disabilities would have true choice and control in their lives to choose the services they wanted, when they wanted and who provided them.
“But you have to have something to choose from, you have to have that accessibility to be able to choose the service you want and swimming is a big part of that choice,” he said.
“I remember meeting a mother a couple of years ago who told me when she went to the beach, she had to change her 14-year-old son on the toilet floor and that was a horrific experience.”
Orange mayor John Davis said the equipment would help the pool staff work with more people with a greater range of disabilities.
“This particular facility is basically building on what we’ve got – it’s about caring and making sure that people with a disability are part of our community,” he said.
“It’s important that people with disabilities and their carers have the same privacy as everyone else to change into their swimming gear and use one of the water wheelchairs.”