We represent walking for all Queenslanders

Recreation and walkability: why good design is essential for people with a disability to be active

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Elisha Matthews is a writer, speaker, activist and proud disabled woman who covers disability issues and other community matters.

‘Part of our human needs is belonging to a community. Connection, inclusion and participation. It’s the same for people with disabilities. Our needs are human needs and no more special than anyone else’s. The difference is just how we are able to fulfil those needs. Accessibility is about making adjustments to connect, participate and be included in our community. Walkability is a vital aspect of our community needs. Having access to our community through connection, inclusion and participation is beneficial to both our physical and mental health. To be able to move around our community without barriers means that we are included, we can be connected and we are able to participate like other members of the community.

Footpaths are essential to ensuring we can fulfil those community needs.

After living on the Brisbane River for a few years I’ve come to appreciate how much the connectivity of good accessible pathways makes my life better. The connectivity of Northshore Hamilton is a great example of this.

With wider paths, scenic views, access to shelter, parks and recreational facilities all connected to public transport options and commuter car parks along the river it is everything a community needs. It also means that I can access my community with family and friends, enjoy the beautiful views of the Brisbane River and have easy access to commute to work and around the city.

High density living means I don’t have access to a yard to enjoy fresh air and sunshine so I need to leave the building to find that. People often look confused when I say I went for a walk along the river. It’s important to me as a wheelchair user to be able to move safely around my community and I love that this area makes that possible. Thanks to the great walkability and connectivity of the Northshore area I can take my granddaughter out for an afternoon stroll in the sun. We look at the flora and fauna around often trying to name that bird and while we do this there’s plenty of room for people to cycle by and walk their dogs (which we love to stop and say hello to).

We all move around differently but walkability is still important to all of us, especially people with disabilities.’


Elisha Matthews is a Policy Development and Training Consultant. Elisha Matthews is a writer, speaker, activist and proud disabled woman who covers disability issues and other community matters.

Founder of the No Permit No Park campaign, former ABC Brisbane Community Correspondent and Contributor to the Queensland Plan, Elisha was awarded the Australia Day honour by Moreton Bay Regional Council of Citizen of the Year 2019 for her tireless advocacy for people with disabilities which lead to the development of the first Disability Access and Inclusion Plan for the region. 

Elisha is now primary carer  to her granddaughter and consults to both the government and non government sectors on disability policy and issues. She is a peer support leader with Queenslanders with Disability Network. In her spare time she is teaching her cats to make tea and applaud her comedic aspirations.