Water just a tap away with new accessible fountains

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Residents and visitors living with disability now have access to fully-accessible water fountains, thanks to a new Council project.

Eleven water fountains, which feature all-ability handles for drinking or water bottle refill, along with a dog bowl, will be installed throughout Yarra Ranges this year as part of the Drinking Fountain Program.

Yarra Ranges Acting Mayor, Richard Higgins, said the fountains were designed to be accessible to people of any ability, following feedback from Council’s Disability Advisory Committee (DAC).

“When it came time to upgrade some of our older water fountains, our Recreation and Active Living Team spoke to our DAC, and committee members told us that button-operated fountains were impossible for people with a disability to use easily,” Cr Higgins said.

“The manufacturers of our fountains came up with this design, which has an easy-to-reach lever action, so rather than pushing a button, you just have to apply pressure to a lever.

“The taps are now easily accessible for people in wheelchairs and those with limited use of their hands.”

“These are the first fountains of their kind in the area – and the first in Australia using this design. We’ve already had great feedback about these, and we look forward to rolling more out across Yarra Ranges in coming years.”

DAC member and Healesville resident, Anthea Forbes, whose son Adam is differently-abled, said that people living with disability, their carers and support services would plan daytrips around accessible facilities like water fountains and toilets.

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Anthea and Adam Forbes with one of the new water fountains in Healesville

“It’s hard to get enough water, especially in hot weather,” Mrs Forbes said.

“Once people and groups doing community activities know about these fountains, they can plan a day around where they are.

“I think disability access is important. The whole of Melbourne should be doing this, it’s a great initiative.”

Lilydale resident, Michelle McDonald, said the fountains meant it would be easier for people of all abilities and their dogs to access drinking water.

“This is very important. When you’re out, particularly with the dog, you need to know you’ve got water,” Ms McDonald said.

“When I’m caught with my drink bottle empty, I’ve had to go into shops and ask them to fill it.

“There are also a lot of people that people who might not have the strength in their arms or dexterity in their hands to turn or push taps, so this is a good idea.”

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Michelle McDonald with one of the new water fountains in Lilydale

Accessible drinking fountains have so far been installed at:

  • Healesville’s main street near the crossing
  • Belgrave’s main street near Hayes car park
  • Upwey’s main street near the playspace
  • Lilydale’s main street near Olinda Creek
  • Lillydale Lake, on the far side from the car park
  • PJ Mould Reserve in Wandin
  • McKenzie King playspace in Millgrove
  • Kilsyth near the town hall

Three more will be installed soon at:

  • Norman Reserve in Mount Dandenong
  • Near the crossing in Melba Highway Yarra Glen
  • Near the public toilets in Monbulk’s main street

A major initiative in Council’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-2021 is to make water the drink of choice for everyone in the community.

This includes installing water bubblers and refill stations in activity centres, recreation facilities and on major walking and cycling trails and promoting water over sugary drinks, among other measures.

To find drinking fountains near you, download Yarra Valley Water’s Choose Tap app or visit choosetap.com.au

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The new water fountains function with pressure on a lever, rather than pressing a button which can be difficult for people with limited dexterity

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