Access grants available for businesses looking to be more inclusive


THERE is an opportunity for small businesses to get a helping hand to carry out renovations that will make their premises accessible for people with disabilities.

Bathurst Regional Council, in partnership with the Bathurst Regional Access Committee (BRAC), each year provides grants to assist local small businesses and non-profit organisations improve access.


Applications have just opened for this year's grants scheme and BRAC chairperson Irene Hancock is hoping to replicate the results from the previous year, where the fund was fully exhausted.

"We ended up spitting it in five ways. They each got $3000 to help cover the costs of their projects," she said.


Businesses and non-profit organisations may apply for funding of either 50 per cent of project costs, or up to a maximum of $5,000 on a dollar for dollar basis.


Projects must be completed within the 2020-21 financial year to be eligible.


Retrospective funding will be considered providing the project is completed in the current financial year.


Ms Hancock said there is a wide range of projects that could be eligible for funding.


A newsagent on William Street, which received funding last year, installed a ramp to help people get into the store, while The Oxford Hotel replaced doors that were too difficult for people with disabilities to open.


As someone who uses a wheelchair, Ms Hancock can attest to how difficult it can be to get into some buildings and public areas.


"Even the littlest step can be a barrier," she said.

"... You've got to be very wary, even when you go into Machattie Park; it's a beautiful park, but there are some steps around the William Street side that you've got to be concerned at or you could come a cropper."

Ms Hancock said that businesses that make their premises more accessible will be able to increase their clientele and generally become more inclusive.


To find out more about the access grants, or to apply, call 6333 6523 or visit the council's

website.

The application process is relatively simple.


"They just have to give us the quote for what they want to do and put an explanation with it," Ms Hancock said.


Applications close on October 2.

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