business, Great Ocean Stays, which provides purpose designed accessible
accommodation and holiday experiences for people with a disability and their families.
Three years ago Christine was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which changed the direction of
her life and seriously threatened the viability of her business. It also left her with a disability
but gave her insight into the challenges of being disabled.
In response, she re-developed her business investing over $3million dollars to target a new
market opportunity, the disability tourism segment. She built 3 accessible homes in Ocean
Grove with a 4th due to open in December and created a new arm to her business, Accessible
Stays, a booking service promoting accessible tourism experiences.
The 2009 ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers showed that almost one in five
Australians, that's four million people, have a disability. According to the National Visitor
Survey 2003 (as analyzed by Darcy & Dwyer in 2008), each year 88 percent of people with a
disability take a holiday, which accounts for 8.2 million overnight trips.
"If you don't have a disability, you know someone who does and with an aging population it
just made really good sense to move into that space", business owner Christine Smith said.
For Christine, winning the awards is about much more than the promotion of her own
business. "Winning these awards has given me a platform to advocate for people with
disability, to get people to pay attention," owner Christine Smith said.
Christine is a vocal advocate for disability and helps employers to see the benefits of
employing people with a disability and encouraging businesses to become accessible.
"If someone's building a new business in the region I would like to inspire them to think
about small, often inexpensive ways of creating a more welcoming space. It just makes good
business sense to be accessible to all customers".
Christine's business, Great Ocean Stays is a recognized NDIS provider. Christine has been a
disability advocate through programs run by Deakin's Diversity Field Officer Program, The
National Disability Co-ordinators Office and as a Board Member of Tourism Greater Geelong
& the Bellarine.