First accessible scuba diving school opens on the Great Barrier Reef

by Millie Costigan
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Quicksilver Dive on Great Barrier Reef

People with disabilities can now scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef thanks to a new facility.

The Queensland Government declared 2023 the year of accessible tourism, with a $12 million investment to upgrade infrastructure for visitors with disabilities across the state. And tourists with a disability can now enjoy the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef as Port Douglas-based Quicksilver Dive becomes the first accessible scuba dive facility on the reef.

Opened in 2018, Quicksilver Dive’s diver training centre is now one of only four facilities in Australia with PADI Adaptive Service Facility accreditation. 

To qualify for the accreditation a business must offer accessible facilities like access to the water with a ramp or lift as well as proper changing facilities. Significant investments have been made into the infrastructure at the centre to ensure the needs of divers of all abilities are met.

Quicksilver group managing director Tony Baker says it’s a wonderful step in the right direction for making scuba diving more inclusive in Australia.

“We strive where possible to make our tourism experiences inclusive and accessible. This includes opening up the world of scuba to people with special needs. It means that we can take even more people diving, including those with varying levels of mobility,” he says.

It’s a sentiment echoed by PADI global adaptive techniques coordinator Fraser Bathgate.

“This recognition means that Quicksilver Dive is able to give an open-door policy to all who wish to take part in recreational scuba diving and associated courses. This status shows that your centre is fully accessible to everyone, not just for training but to all aspects of the diving family,” he says.

Accessible tourism push in preparation for 2032 Brisbane Olympics

The new facility comes as research found that visitors with a disability spent $3.2 billion annually on tourism in Australia.

In the lead up to the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, the Queensland Government’s multi-million dollar investment in accessible tourism is part of the move to lay the foundations for making Brisbane 2032 the world’s most accessible and inclusive sporting event for athletes and spectators.

Scuba diving can be a significant form of rehabilitation for people with mental and physical conditions. A study of 240 men and women with physical disabilities found that scuba diving increased self-esteem, self-confidence and improvement in the ability to engage in social interactions.

Sydney was voted in world’s top 10 most accessible cities last year, see why.

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