Ausnew Home Care | Travel with a disability shouldn't be that hard

Travel with a disability shouldn't be that hard, and there's billions on offer to businesses who prioritise accessibility

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When Kerry Williams took a trip to Tasmania with her mother, she was shocked to find her mum couldn't easily access the shower. 

Her mother Barbie has MS, which made navigating the hotel bathroom difficult, and she ended up resorting to hand-washing herself with her daughter's help.

Kerry told her mum she should not have to compromise and it should not be that difficult to book accessible accommodation for someone with a disability.

It drove her to launch a business — Accessible Accommodation — aimed at providing travellers with a disability an optimum experience when they want to take a break.

Opportunity for COVID-hit sector

Travellers with a disability are in an under-serviced sector despite estimates they are spending $3.2 billion a year.

According to Tourism Research Australia, 7 per cent of the Australian population is seeking accessible tourism experiences.

This number grows to just under 14 per cent — 3.4 million people — when you take into account the many support workers and others who travel with people with a disability, blowing the value of the sector out to $8 billion.

But the organisation found many people were not travelling because of barriers in accommodation, transport and current technologies, representing another potential $1.8 billion spend.

Getting clear information and support is key

Julia Hales, who lives with down syndrome, says for her it is all about being well-informed.

Julia Hales sitting on a park bench smiling. Ausnew Home Care, NDIS registered provider, My Aged Care
Julia Hales says staying somewhere central when she travels ensures she doesn't feel isolated.(

ABC News: James Carmody


"Getting clear information, making sure the accommodation is centrally located so I don't get lost or feel isolated [is important]," she said.

"When I am travelling alone on a plane, I try to have someone waiting for me at the airport or have transport pre-booked."

She also said she liked it if airport and hotel staff were patient, and took extra time to give clear instructions and information about their accommodation, travel tips and ways to get around.

Julia Hales as a young woman, standing next to a man on a horse in London.
Ms Hales has travelled widely, including as a young woman to London.(



"It is helpful to have someone with me in the check-in process to make sure it goes smoothly, or I can always ask the reception to help me out, so everything is clear," she said.

She said everyone who needed it should have access to support workers when travelling.

Be upfront about what you can and can't offer

Stuart Jenkinson, a wheelchair user, said it was important travel and accommodation providers gave accurate information about accessibility facilities.

A man in a wheelchair on a path against a rocky backdrop.
Mr Jenkinson says hotels and other travel businesses can easily provide information about accessibility on their websites and social media pages.(

Supplied: Stuart Jenkinson


"Holiday, travel and accommodation providers need to be encouraged to provide information about the accessibility facilities they provide upfront on websites and promotional material including social media," he said.

"In addition, staff need to be properly trained in disability awareness as well as informed about the facilities and services available at their venue."

Stuart Jenkinson in his wheelchair outside his office.
Mr Jenkinson says government and industry should collaborate with people with a disability to improve accessibility in tourism.(

ABC News: James Carmody


Mr Jenkinson said he had stayed at some very accessible and suitable places.

But he had also booked accommodation advertised as accessible only to learn otherwise on arrival.

Mr Jenkinson said industry and government should work collaboratively with people with a disability to improve accessibility, which he said would be beneficial from a moral, regulatory, and financial perspective.

Train staff to know what's on offer

Robert Muir, who is blind, said it was helpful having staff properly trained in disability awareness as well as informed about the facilities and services available at their venue.

A msan and a woman in front of a lake and palace.
Robert Muir, who likes to travel, says travellers with a disability could use more assistance when planning holidays.(

Supplied: Robert Muir


He said when staying at a hotel, he needed to make sure his room was not too far from the stairs and lift, which he hoped staff would understand.

When flying, he needs assistance from airports and airlines to go through security and boarding the plane.

Mr Muir welcomed the idea of travellers with a disability being better supported to plan holiday experiences.

Ms Williams said if the tourism industry offered better accessibility, it was a win-win situation.

She said more people with disabilities would have the opportunity to experience the enjoyment of travel.

"Everyone deserves a break," she said.


Source: ABC

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