Spinal Life Australia is calling upon the Australian Human Rights Commission to uphold the rights of Queenslanders with a disability with its imminent decision on the State Government’s New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains.
The Commission is currently deciding whether to approve the State Government’s application for a three-year discrimination law exemption to place the NGR trains into service, despite major accessibility concerns.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Powell said he had faith in the Commission to support Queenslanders with a disability by rejecting the application.
“If the exemption request is granted, it sends a message that it’s acceptable to leave behind Queenslanders with a disability and our laws of inclusiveness and equality are free to be ignored,” Mr Powell said.
“The right to accessible and reliable transport services should be mandatory, not an optional extra.”
A petition launched by Spinal Life Australia calling on all future Queensland transport services to be fully accessible has received more than 1,400 signatures and counting in the five days since it was launched.
The NGR trains have been criticised for including toilets inaccessible to most wheelchair users and a guard cab located at the rear of the train, instead of the centre.
As passengers with a disability or aged passengers wait for boarding assistance mid-platform, the guard is placed at a lengthy 70 metre distance from passengers requiring assistance, greatly increasing the risk of passengers being overlooked or unassisted.
“A solution has been offered in the form of additional platform staff to help with passengers requiring boarding assistance, however ensuring staff members are available for all stations across all operating hours would come at a long-term cost that would be likely unsustainable,” Mr Powell said.
“Accessible transport services for Queenslanders with a disability and the aged should be a right, not a privilege.”
Mr Powell said Spinal Life Australia has lodged a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission urging them to reject the State Government’s application for a three-year exemption of discrimination laws.
The submission is available for viewing at www.spinal.com.au/ngr-trains-submission.
The petition can be found at http://chn.ge/2EjqwOK.