Parks Victoria welcomes new access and inclusion coordinator 

18.05.22 03:15 PM By Dan
Amber Smith steps in as the new coordinator responsible for improving accessibility across Victorian parks. Amber brings a wealth of experience to the role and a passion for collaborative change-making.

John Kenwright departed the role of Accessibility and Inclusion Coordinator with Parks Victoria earlier this year. John has done great work at Parks Vic, making the implementation of universal design for new visitor facilities in parks a high priority. 

This work has included creating more accessible picnic areas, campgrounds, viewing areas, children’s playscapes, jetties and waterway infrastructure, and more all-abilities trails. We thank John for his efforts, and wish him well in his future endeavours. The incoming coordinator, Amber Smith, introduces herself to the AQA community below.

Amber says she's hoping to bring some new ideas to build on the work of John Kenwright.
By Amber Smith

I come to the role with more than a decade of experience working across disability, aged care, emergency, health and government settings. I am also an Advanced Life Support Paramedic, a mum and a wife, and I bring a personal experience of disability. 

I’m passionate about working with community and making systemic and attitudinal change. Those that know me say I tend to fly under the radar by making sure I bring people with lived experience and expertise to the front of conversations. It’s only when I and others understand the issues that I feel confident to figure out how existing systems, policies and procedures might be preventing meaningful change. 

If I can change conversations from the status quo, give the right people a platform to build awareness and accountability, get people motivated, and focus on positive change then I feel like I’m doing my job.
Expanded accessible waterway infrastructure is one of the legacies that John Kenwright has left us.
I am hoping to bring some new ideas to build upon the work John Kenwright has achieved, as well as contribute to the holistic approach Parks Vic is taking towards inclusion. 

John has driven some innovative and positive partnerships, programs and initiatives between Parks Vic and the disability community, and a wide range of disability organisations. He has advocated improvement and organisational cultural change every step of the way, so I have big shoes to fill! John will keep connected through his volunteering work and is hoping to do some travel soon. 

One of the positives I’ve experienced so far in the role is the level of trust between the community and Parks Victoria. I have been surprised at the breadth of innovation, the can-do approach of the workforce and the genuine commitment to co-design improvements to make parks more inclusive. 
Wilsons Prom is one of the most accessible parks in Victoria, with beach chairs available alongside accessible tracks and accommodation.

My priority at Parks Vic is to make sure Parks Victoria’s new Disability Action Plan 2022-2026 is achievable, and that we have really understood, and can contribute to, the whole-of-government six systemic reforms outlined in the inclusive Victoria State Disability Plan. 

There are some fantastic outcomes to work towards which were shaped through much of the community consultation. The plan is due for release in late May/early June. I am also busy meeting with stakeholders and community, and I look forward to connecting with you any time. 

And feel free to contact me for information, or to have a conversation.

Mobile: 0438 544 218
Read a boutique accessible travel guide for Gippsland.

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