Discrimination’: Woman’s struggle with pool’s disability access

| 21st Mar 2017 1:01 PM – The Observer –

The article below which appeared in the Gladstone Observer talks about a similar problem spoken about here in Brisbane and the Redlands.    Not good enough.

UNFAIR: Leah Felsmah can't swim at the Gladstone Aquatic Centre because there is no pool access for people with disability.
UNFAIR: Leah Felsmah can’t swim at the Gladstone Aquatic Centre because there is no pool access for people with disability.Emily Pidgeon.

IT’S a fact that swimming lightens the load for many people recovering from surgery and helps accelerate their recovery.  But for people who have a mobility disability, it can be a struggle swimming for recovery at Gladstone Aquatic Centre, Leah Felsmah claims.

Ms Felsmah had been swimming about 40 laps four times a week to help with her recovery from her bilateral knee replacement.  However, this became a problem when she moved from Perth to Gladstone and realised she wasn’t able to access the main pool to swim laps.

“It’s just rungs, a ladder type … there are plenty of other people, with knee injuries from sport and other reasons, who can’t get up and down those rungs,” Ms Felsmah said.  “It’s discrimination, they have to provide for people with disability.”

Ms Felsmah said she called the Gladstone Aquatic Centre and the Gladstone Regional Council more than 20 times before moving to the region, with concerns about the lack of access people with disability had to the pool.

“They said they did have an old hoist and it wasn’t working,” she said.  “It’s all wrong … they said they would replace it and it just hasn’t happened.  “They need to be doing something about it.”

Although Gladstone Aquatic Centre has a 25m pool with access for people with disability, Ms Felsmah said it was often crowded.  “The heated indoor pool with ramp access is always crowded … you can’t swim in the lanes because they’re always full up,” she said.  “I understand it’s an old pool but putting a set of stairs in isn’t as physical as you think.  “It’s all about money to be honest.”

Gladstone Regional Council spokesperson said the 25m indoor pool was popular because of the built in ramp giving access for those with disabilities.   “Council is aware of the community’s request for mobility access to the 50m outdoor pool and will consider it along with the other needs of the community in the next financial year budget,” council spokespersons said.

Ms Felsmah said she had a bilateral knee replacement 13 weeks ago and has been forced to swim at Calliope Swimming Pool four times a week for recovery.  “It’ll be closed by the end of the month because it closes for winter,” she said.  “I’m a bit stymied.”

Gladstone Aquatic Centre declined to comment.

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