- 1.3 million Australians represent the accessible tourism sector for overnight and/or day trip travel
- According to the ABS*, one of the greatest sources of disability discrimination comes from service and hospitality staff – the Access Accelerator program aims to remove this as a barrier to inclusion in the tourism industry.
- Spinal Life Australia and Cérge’s new program combines immersive disability awareness training and award-winning inclusive technology to offer an extraordinary and accessible experience to all visitors.
- All tourism operators are encouraged to complete an Expression of Interest at https://visitsc.au/access
With almost 1 in 5 Australians living with a disability, Spinal Life Australia and Cérge are thrilled to announce their implementation of the groundbreaking Access Accelerator program, designed to transform tourism destinations across Queensland into inclusive and accessible havens for all travellers.
Through their successful application for the Queensland Government’s Accessible Tourism Enablers Grant under the Year of Accessible Tourism in Queensland, Spinal Life and Cérge’s Access Accelerator program is set to revolutionise the tourism industry, starting with the Sunshine Coast region, by making tourism more accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to travellers with diverse accessibility needs.
The program aims to empower businesses and equip them with the knowledge, tools and confidence to create accessible tourism destinations through immersive disability awareness training, adoption of award-winning inclusive technology, guided access and inclusion planning, and real-life stories of inclusion experienced by customers.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO, Matt Stoeckel, expressed his full support for the Access Accelerator program and its intended delivery in the region.
“As a destination we know it’s important to be more inclusive and this is a step in the right direction. The Access Accelerator program will give tourism operators on the Sunshine Coast the tools to better cater to the accessible tourism market. The program will enable the participating tourism operators to better understand the accessible tourism market and improve the experience for those travelling with a disability. We are eager to work closely with Spinal Life Australia and Cérge to ensure our local tourism operators embrace accessibility and create memorable experiences for every visitor,” says Mr Stoeckel.
Chris Kerrisk, the Co-founder of Cérge, also put forward his support for partnering with Spinal Life in the successful delivery of this program.
“We are proud to be partnering with Spinal Life Australia to deliver this transformative program,” says Mr Kerrisk. “Through the Access Accelerator, businesses will not only enhance their services for customers with disability but also gain a competitive edge in the growing accessible tourism market.”
The Access Accelerator program is slated to kick off in October 2023, with a series of industry-leading workshops and training sessions for participating tourism organisations to gain first-hand insight into what it may be like to have a disability. These workshops will be spread across multiple delivery dates to accommodate business operations and staff turnover, ensuring maximum participation and impact.
Dane Cross, Senior Advisor – Access & Advocacy of Spinal Life Australia, is thrilled to be part of this next step in championing accessibility within tourism.
“We are delighted to receive the Accessible Tourism Enablers Grant, as it reaffirms our commitment to making Queensland a leader in accessible tourism. This funding will enable us to roll out the Access Accelerator program to a diverse group of 50 tourism operators, including those on the Sunshine Coast. Our aim is to create inclusive destinations that set a benchmark for accessibility in Australia,” says Mr Cross.
Spinal Life Australia and Cérge extend their gratitude to the Queensland Government for recognising the importance of accessible tourism and supporting this scalable and transformative initiative. The funding success underscores the collective commitment to building a more inclusive and accessible Queensland.
About Spinal Life Australia
Spinal Life Australia is a leading not-for-profit organisation dedicated to championing accessibility, inclusivity, and empowerment for people with spinal cord injuries and physical disabilities. With a rich legacy of more than 60 years, Spinal Life Australia has been at the forefront of driving positive change in the lives of individuals with mobility challenges.
Spinal Life Australia is passionate about building a more inclusive and accessible Queensland, where every person, regardless of their abilities, can fully participate in all aspects of life. Through collaborative efforts and transformative initiatives, the organisation is paving the way for a brighter and more inclusive future for individuals with spinal cord injuries and physical disabilities.
For more information about Spinal Life Australia and their transformative Access Accelerator program, please visit https://www.spinal.com.au/.
Cérge is a set of companion technologies solving two of the biggest barriers to community participation for the disability community – a lack of public information about venue/destination accessibility and how people are perceived and treated by service teams.
With both parties using the technology, app users can let businesses know when they’re about to arrive and any particular requirements they may have, creating a better customer experience for all.
Imagine having your own personal disability advocate in your pocket to overcome social barriers, fears and anxieties to improve confidence and community participation.
About the Year of Accessible Tourism (YOAT)
2023 is the Year of Accessible Tourism in Queensland; an opportunity to recognise the importance of accessible tourism experiences for all, and to ignite change and create opportunities for the state’s tourism businesses. A Queensland Government initiative, $12 million in new funding will be invested in targeted programs throughout the year to help the tourism industry better cater to visitors of all abilities and provide greater destination experiences for all holidaymakers in Queensland.
About the research
Tourism Research Australia, Strategic Regional Research Reports, Accessible Tourism in Victoria and Queensland, https://www.tra.gov.au/Archive-TRA-Old-site/Research/View-all-publications/All-Publications/Destination-Visitor-Survey-results/Strategic-regional-research-reports/accessible-tourism-victoria-queensland