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New era of access at Auckland City community venue

MEDIA RELEASE

22 August 2005

New era of access at Auckland City community venue

The first of Auckland City’s older community venues to be retrofitted so that it better meets the needs of disabled people opens this week.

The refurbished Western Springs Garden Hall will be officially opened by Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard on Saturday 27 August.

Fittingly, the first event to take place at the newly accessible venue will be a seminar to encourage disabled people to become more active in public life.

Mayor Dick Hubbard says the council has a programme to refurbish its older community venues so that disabled people can access them easily.

“These venues are a great resource and we want all kinds of people to use them – that’s why the council is committed to ensuring these venues are fully accessible.

“The Western Springs Garden Hall is the first to be upgraded so that it better meets the needs of disabled people and that’s a major milestone.

“I’m personally delighted to be able to officially open the hall so that all members of the community can now make use of it,” Mr Hubbard says.

The upgrade follows a disability audit in 2003, which looked at how accessible Auckland City’s community venues were.

Newer buildings were generally accessible, but several older buildings were highlighted for upgrades and the Western Springs Garden Hall was identified as a priority.

The $220,000 construction project began at the venue in April 2005 and a number of innovations were included in the upgrade, which feature:

- tactile directional paving to help people who are visually impaired

- more mobility car parks

- new paving to allow easier movement for wheelchairs

- acoustic panelling and hearing loops in the hall

- a ramp to the stage area.

Councillor Cathy Casey says the upgrade was carried out in conjunction with Auckland City’s Disability Issues Advisory Group.

“The work of this group was instrumental and thanks to their commitment, a range of features have been introduced that will make a real difference for disabled people.

“The use of tactile paving strips will really open up the hall for visually impaired people and the hearing loop means those with hearing aids can fully participate in any discussions.

“These improvements mean that disabled people can more actively take part in events and activities and that’s good for the entire community,” Dr Casey says.

The official opening of the Western Springs Garden Hall will be followed by a seminar hosted by the disability group, DPA Auckland.

“Making Honey – options in public life” will feature numerous speakers who will discuss their experience of public life in community organisations, government and councils.

Some of those to speak include:

- Barry de Geest, member of the Auckland District Health Board

- Chris Hansen, chairperson of the Like Minds steering committee

- Minnie Baragwanath, Auckland City Council disability adviser

- Mark Gosche, MP.

Organiser Sacha Gildenlore says the event will explore some of the many ways disabled people can get involved and make a difference.

The Western Springs Garden Hall will be officially opened at 10.30am on 27 August and the “Making Honey” seminar will begin at 11am.

For more details on the “Making Honey” seminar, visit www.dpa-auckland.org.nz

ENDS

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