THE Disabled Surfers Association Mornington Peninsula branch’s surfing event at Point Leo on Saturday 4 March saw plenty of smiles in the water and the opening of changing rooms for people with high support needs.
The “changing places” building includes a toilet, shower, tracking hoist system and a change table with space either side for support staff and families.
The facility was opened by Environment Minister Ingrid Stitt who said it would make “this wonderful destination more accessible for everyone to enjoy”.
Shelley Hansom-Brown, whose daughter Kiah takes the opportunity to join other surfers at DSAMP events, said there had been a great need for the new facility and described the beneficial impact it would have on those needing to use it.
DSAMP committee members John Bowers and Bill Hallett recognised the need for the fully accessible changing places after the opening of a boardwalk at Pont Leo in 2018.
They approached foreshore manager Tony Walkington, which led to meetings with Mornington Peninsula Shire, Point Leo Surf Lifesaving Club and state and federal MPs.
Using statistics from the numbers of people – volunteers and surfers – attending the DSAMP’s surfing events, an application for government finance was made in August 2021 and granted in November that year.
After the opening ceremony, nearly 100 surfers and twice as many volunteers were back in the water.
The Hoodoo Men and Christine Watterson entertained on the beach while surfers waited for their turn in the surf.
DSAMP president Pea Saunders thanked everyone involved, including “the incredible Somerville and Tyabb Rotary Club” for serving “the traditional sausage, vegie burger, fruit and lollies”.
Saunders said anyone wanting to join the DSAMP committee should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made to Disabled Surfers Assoc of Aust. BSB: 633 000. Account: 144 582 889.