Accessibility to be at the heart of new Melbourne developments: lord mayor hopeful

Mobility scooters and wheelchairs would have charging stations across Melbourne and accessibility would be a focus of all new council-funded projects under a policy put forward by lord mayor hopeful Arron Wood.

Cr Wood said that, if elected this month, he would establish a disability access fund with seed funding from the City of Melbourne and philanthropic supporters.

That fund would help pay for mobility charging stations, improving disability access for tourist attractions and accessibility in all council-funded projects.

Deputy lord mayor Arron Wood.Credit:Eddie Jim

"Given that 20 per cent of Melburnians have some form of disability, it is imperative that we make accessibility a priority. We want everyone to come back and we have a responsibility to ensure that it is safe and as easy as possible for that to happen," he said.

Under the proposal, shop and building owners would be able to apply for grants to match, dollar-for-dollar, any money they spend on ramps, mobility charging stations and other accessibility measures.

"There are already tax incentives for building and infrastructure owners to incorporate disability access but there is more that we can and should do to ensure that Melbourne is accessible for as many people as possible. We shouldn’t be leaving anyone behind," Cr Wood said.

Paralympian Brian McNicholl, pictured here in 1992, has lent his support to the policy.Credit:Kenneth Stevens

"There is a lot of pressure on listed companies to meet shareholder demand on environmental and social governance and Team Arron Wood wants to increase awareness of the importance of disability access in terms of corporate social responsibility."

The idea was backed by Paralympian Brian McNicholl, who won gold for Australia in 1992.

"For people with mobility issues, numerous barriers can range from blocked wheelchair ramps, to businesses without step-free access, to non-accessible toilets. Meanwhile, a cluttered and hectic city environment can be a sensory nightmare," Mr McNicholl said.

"It is paramount that councils and governments ensure access and inclusion are at the top of all planning permits."

Postal votes in the City of Melbourne are due to be returned by 6pm on Friday, October 23.

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