Launceston man Michael Mitchell normally has too much pride to ask for help.
But since the effects of his 2003 multiple sclerosis diagnosis have become more acute, he has had no choice but to call on the goodwill of strangers when needed.
Fifty-year-old Mr Mitchell has been wheelchair-bound while not at home since 2015 and the reality of no longer being able to dash up a small set of stairs or skip over a gutter has become apparent.
While his 20 years as an officer with Tasmania Police left him with an unflappable nature about his disability, when he has to go to the Elphin Sports Centre, his demeanour changes.
In a world of inclusiveness, this place is not very inclusive of disabled people.Michael Mitchell
The centre was built in 1964 and Mr Mitchell said its disability access remained in the "dark ages".
Describing a typical trip to the centre, Mr Mitchell said he was unable to go from courts one and two to courts three and four without embarking on an 800 metre circuit that saw him exit the building at one end and wheel around to the other end to enter again.
When he finally gets to the other entry, he needs someone to open the non-automated doors for him.
He has to repeat the same process to access the disabled toilets, with them only located on one level of the split level arena.
With his daughter an integral part of the Basketball Tasmania state program, Mr Mitchell is confronted with his disadvantage whenever she plays at the Launceston multi-purpose sports facility.
Mr Mitchell recently secured himself a more modern chair which provides him some assistance by way of a motor that propels him forwards. He said it helps get him from one end of the building to the other, but prevents him from accessing the non-disabled toilets.
After realising the restrictions of his new chair at a recent visit to the centre, and with the 800-metre trip between him and the disabled toilets, Mr Mitchell wet himself.
Adding to his despair is the location of the disabled car park which runs parallel to a nearby garden bed. Mr Mitchell is able to drive his car with special provisions, but he struggles to get out of his car because of the car park's proximity to the garden.
"I've been to all the basketball courts in the North-East and the North-West and those little town courts are far better than this. It's ridiculous," Mr Mitchell said. "I just shouldn't have to deal with this, none of us should."
I just shouldn't have to deal with this, none of us should.Michael Mitchell
Mr Mitchell said he had contacted the state government numerous times for help to no avail. The centre's management chose not to comment on accessibility at the state government owned facility.
The centre received a roof upgrade in 2020 thanks to a $400,000 grant from the 2019 state budget.
At the time then treasurer Peter Gutwein said the upgrades were to "ensure the facility is safe and accessible year-round".
A state government spokesperson acknowledged that improvements were needed at the facility.
"Preliminary advice has been sought regarding any current plans or opportunities to progress upgrades," they said.
They did not answer a question about the last time the facility's disability accessibility was audited.
If you or anybody you know has experienced the same issues at any Launceston facilities please email: email@example.com.
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