Creating Inclusive Spaces

Maitland Park Bowling and Sporting Complex club secretary Philip Penfold has come to know Ability Links NSW through the valuable work the Maitland team has done in the community.

Armed with that knowledge, he came to Ability Links looking for support to create a more user-friendly, accessible and inclusive club.

Maitland Park Bowling and Sporting Complex is a not-for-profit club which has operated in the local community for 115 years. Approximately 17 different user groups make use of the facility on a weekly basis.

In answering the club’s call for support, Linkers and their team leader visited the club to identify areas which could be modified to enhance accessibility.

Mr Penfold said the club had identified the need to modify the front entrance and had developed plans to do so. Those plans involve a renovation of the front façade, including the installation of a ramp at the front of the club, with double glass sliding doors. A Development Application outlining their proposal has been submitted to Maitland City Council for consideration.

During their site visit, the Linkers identified a number of other ways the club could improve accessibility, including:

  • Modifying the outdoor tables to cater for powered and wheelchair users
  • Installing automatic-opening doors to the accessible toilet
  • Lowering the visitors’ desk
  • Creating a sensory room

Mr Penfold asked Ability Links to share their knowledge about what sorts of community supports and financial assistance was available in the community to help make the necessary changes.

Together with the Maitland Ability Links team, the club arranged a Community Consultation Forum to share their plans and discuss the possibilities. More than 20 people attended the forum including club members, user group representatives and community members.

Linkers spoke about the Ability Links program and gave examples of the community work that they do with assisting, identifying and supporting community to be accessible and inclusive. It was agreed at that meeting that fundraising was a key priority and a good way for members to drive change in the community, with support from Ability Links.

This project is ongoing.