Since Spinal Life Australia started in 1960, we have advocated for people with physical disabilities at a local, state and national level and empowered our members and clients to advocate for themselves.
We have endeavoured and will continue to endeavour to make Queensland more accessible and inclusive for all people with a physical disability by removing barriers of participation in the community.
Through regular engagement with our members and clients, we work to identify issues of importance and lobby for positive changes and to remove barriers to participation for people with spinal cord damage or related physical disability.
This can involve small improvements in community accessibility all the way to petitioning for major changes in State or National legislation.
Some of the previous advocacy work we have undertaken with our members included:
Taxi Subsidy Scheme changes
The Queensland Government Taxi Subsidy Scheme grants half-price taxi fares for wheelchair users and people with disabilities.
However, Spinal Life Australia received several reports from members and clients that taxi drivers were starting the meter before the passenger and their chair could be fully secured in the vehicle, leading to additional costs.
On behalf of our members and clients, Spinal Life Australia successfully lobbied the State Government to introduce new rules to the subsidy requiring the passenger to be fully secured inside the vehicle before the meter can start.
We are also currently petitioning the Queensland Government to extend the scheme for NDIS participants past the planned end date of 31 June 2019.
To assist our members and clients who experience this, we’ve developed a card that fits in your wallet that you can hand to taxi drivers following incorrect procedure, which you can download and print by clicking here.
Accessible transport programs for social clubs
Spinal Life Australia is encouraging social clubs around Queensland, such as RSL. Surf, League and Bowls clubs, to introduce an accessible transport program for members with a physical disability.
The campaign comes after a program was successfully introduced at the Maryborough RSL, where members with a disability unable to use the club’s courtesy bus could request the RSL club to organise a courtesy accessible taxi.
We’re hoping a similar program can be introduced at clubs all over the state wherever a club’s courtesy bus is not wheelchair accessible.
If you would like to see your local club introduce an accessible transport program, or if you are involved in a club interested in the program, click here for more information on how the program works.
State accessibility and the NGR trains
In late 2017, the State Government placed a number of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains into service despite noted accessibility issues including inaccessible bathrooms and walkways.
In 2018, the Australian Human Rights Commission ruled the NGR trains breached disability discrimination laws however a date has not been sent to have the trains removed from service and brought up to accessibility standards.
In response to this, Spinal Life Australia got in contact with the Queensland Premier’s office, State Parliamentarians, media and members and clients urging for measures to be introduced to ensure full accessibility is a mandatory part of all future state infrastructure, including transport.
We also launched an online petition, which has received more than 16,000 signatures, urging the State Government to make sure full accessibility is accounted for before any future projects leave the planning and procurement stage.
You can view our submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission by clicking here.
As well as lobbying for change on a local, State and Federal level, we also advocate on the behalf of individual members, as well as empower members with the advice and support they need to advocate for themselves. Previous examples of this include:
Case study #1
An NDIS participant moved from an NDIS region to Brisbane and, in the process, could not get a plan reassessment.
This left the member unable to pay for his care provider, new equipment and bills and contacted Spinal Life Australia for assistance.
Spinal Life Australia stepped in to negotiate with the National Disability Insurance Agency on behalf of the member and managed to get his NDIS plan reinstated.
Case study #2:
A member with a newly acquired spinal cord injury requested NIISQ funding for housing modifications, which was rejected.
The member was told they would need to move into a nursing home instead, despite the impact, this would have on his wife and family.
Working as his advocate, Spinal Life Australia was able to secure funding for his housing modifications that allowed him to return home with his family.
Case study #3:
A member with a newly acquired spinal cord injury required accessibility modifications made to their home before they could return from the hospital.
Although entitled to housing modifications through the NDIS, an agreement could not be reached on who would fund the assessment to allow modifications to begin.
Spinal Life Australia assisted the member to contact relevant Ministers and heads of Government departments to appeal the issue, resulting in an agreement being made for Queensland Health to fund the member’s assessment for modifications.
For more information about our advocacy services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 1300 SPINAL (1300 774 625).