New cen­tre, more ac­cess

Alpine Observer - - News -

THE first fully ac­ces­si­ble snow line ac­com­mo­da­tion was of­fi­cially opened at How­mans Gap last Fri­day.

The new $3.7 mil­lion state-ofthe-art fa­cil­ity will al­low more peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence the snow and par­tic­i­pate in on-snow ac­tiv­i­ties at Falls Creek, just a few kilo­me­tres up the road.

Owned and largely funded by the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment, the Alpine Ac­ces­si­ble Ac­com­mo­da­tion Cen­tre will be man­aged by YMCA Vic­to­ria on be­half of Dis­abled Win­ter­sports Aus­tralia.

Pre­vi­ous to the devel­op­ment How­mans Gap pro­vided lim­ited spe­cial needs fa­cil­i­ties but DWA na­tional pro­gram man­ager An­drew Lee said the new year-round ac­com­mo­da­tion will cre­ate a fan­tas­tic op- por­tu­nity for many Aus­tralians who would other­wise be un­able to ac­cess the snow.

The na­tional mem­ber­ship base for DWA con­tin­ues to grow and is 1400 peo­ple this year with more and more dis­abled skiers tak­ing to the slopes.

“We now have a ded­i­cated fa­cil­ity above the snow line which means we can now of­fer the same op­por­tu­nity to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties that the av­er­age per­son gets to have,” Mr Lee said.

“The snow in gen­eral is some­thing that gives peo­ple a sense of free­dom so it’s great that we can now give more peo­ple the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the snow and the joys that come with it.”

Each of the cen­tre’s 36 rooms were built so that the room de­sign can be changed but still main­tain ac­ces­si­bil­ity.

The kitchen has been fit­ted so it’s all wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble and will even­tu­ally be set up for lim­ited self­ca­ter­ing.

The bath­rooms are de­signed for peo­ple with very lim­ited mo­bil­ity, up to full quadriple­gia, with lift­ing hoists, a chang­ing ta­ble and fully ac­ces­si­ble shower.

The cen­tre in­cludes ad­di­tional heat­ing and in­su­la­tion to as­sist vis­i­tors who have dif­fi­culty reg­u­lat­ing their body tem­per­a­ture.

Lights have also been wired to all come on softly, for peo­ple who have vi­sion im­pair­ments or sen­si­tiv­ity to light.

Mr Lee said that the pur­pose-built fa­cil­ity had taken ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing into ac­count.

“Every sin­gle el­e­ment of the fa­cil­ity is de­signed to make it eas­ier for our clients and to pro­vide them with a mem­o­rable snow ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

DWA hopes to raise $100,000 to in­stall a lift at the cen­tre, so that peo­ple in wheel­chairs do not have to leave the build­ing and go down a ramp to ac­cess a fit­ting room down­stairs.

Along with pro­vid­ing greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple with a dis­abil­ity, the cen­tre will also be­come a high-per­for­mance train­ing fa­cil­ity for Aus­tralia’s Win­ter Par­a­lympic Games ath­letes.

Win­ter Par­a­lympian co-cap­tains and DWA am­bas­sadors Joany Baden­horst and Mitch Gour­ley spoke at the cen­tre’s launch.

The cen­tre was of­fi­cially opened by Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Tourism Danielle Green, who is trained as a DWA guide, while MP Damian Drum was also in at­ten­dance.

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