Confirmed victory

Pools are for everyone. Let mobility-impaired people access hydrotherapy.

This petition made change with 12,882 supporters!

I have lived with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a condition that affects the musculoskeletal system, since I was 11. Since then I have had two hip replacements, one when I was 19 and one when I was 21.

I rely on hydrotherapy in public pools, but despite pools reopening, I’m unable to access them. I’m starting this petition to ensure that the needs of mobility-impaired people - whether due to disability, long term illness or age - are protected in this pandemic, regardless of income.

Melbourne pools were recently re-opened, just in time for the warmer months. This should be great news for everyone who relies on them for exercise. Sadly, public pools meant for everybody were only available for those swimming laps. Which excluded mobility-impaired people who rely on pools for hydrotherapy. 

People with disabilities like mine have been waiting and waiting to get access to a weightless environment with warm water to mitigate inflammation. 

Now, a new rule has been introduced. Indoor pools are only open for "one-on-one hydrotherapy with a health professional". But this essentially sets an income and ability threshold on who can exercise, and who can't. 

This rule must be changed so that it is sensible and reflects the lived experience of people with disabilities. Inability to do exercise programs for maintenance leads to permanent disability and damage. 

As it stands, hydrotherapy is only open to people who can afford to have their physiotherapist in the pool with them. The vast majority of people do their physio program in the pool solo. Forcing us to engage physiotherapists just to access public pools is classist and ableist.

The Victorian Government has changed the rules around exercise during COVID-19 many times. Mobility-impaired people managed to change "no drive to exercise" rules, because walking to green space was obviously a challenge for us a challenge. Now, we need the Government to listen to us again.

People like myself (the immuno-compromised) and elderly are most at risk because of our comorbid conditions (cardiovascular disease etc). However it appears that very little thought is being given to allowing us to facilitate the management of our conditions so that we can fight off the virus if we get it. If at risk people are the priority, let us be the priority. Actually talk to us, not just about us.

I call for the Victorian Government to:

  • Change the rules regarding access to physiotherapy so that the threshold for access is a Letter from GP 
  • Consult with a representative from disability and older Australian community in final rule design, so that we are able to manage our health and protect ourselves from the virus within the rules 

Please, sign and share this petition and ensure our public pools remain just that - for everyone, not just the able bodied.

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Monika Sarder needs your help with “Pools are for everyone. Let mobility-impaired people access hydrotherapy.”. Join Monika and 12,881 supporters today.