A new community group is being developed to make Wagga more accessible for people of all levels of physical and intellectual ability.
Wagga City Council, Intereach, and the Council for Intellectual Disability are teaming up to form the Wagga Access Working Group – a team of proactive members of the community designed to improve access around the city.
Oscar Cruz, who uses a wheelchair, has often experienced difficulty getting around the city.
“Getting into certain buildings in the town and main streets – particularly Fitzmaurice – is a challenge,” Mr Cruz said.
“Each person’s experience with a disability and accessibility is very different – I've found that if you speak up and make people aware of it, they're quite helpful, but sometimes you get a shy person that doesn't want to cause a scene.”
Mr Cruz’s support worker, Dylan Cole from The Leisure Company, said it was often the most basic things that created barriers to access.
“Oscar had one problem last year with the traffic lights and not being able to push the button on the pedestrian crossing because it's too high,” Mr Cole said.
“Another one is when you go to pay and the counter's up here, or the EFTOPS machine doesn't leave the hook, so you can't reach it.”
The idea for the group came about when Kerein Mullins, a linker with Intereach, came to the council looking for a coordinated approach to the issue.
“No matter who you are in the community, we believe that you should have access to everything in the community, not just cherry picking because you walk,” Ms Mullins said.
“So this should also involve people with vision impairment, hearing impairment, sensory issues, parents with prams, and elderly people on scooters or walkers.”
Lisa Saffery, the council’s social planning coordinator, will be working with Ms Mullins to run the group; she said the group is open to people with and without a disability.
“They will bring to the meetings areas that they believe are barriers to access and, where they have the capacity, will then go and talk to various people and take a proactive role in trying to change things,” Ms Saffery said.
“Around 18 per cent of people in Wagga have some form of disability, so it's quite significant.”
Expressions of interest for the Wagga Access Working Group are now open.