INDEPENDENT NEWS

Australia: Disability Standards Reform A Step In The Right Direction, Further Action Needed

Published: Thu 21 Mar 2024 05:53 AM
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is calling for additional measures to ensure Australia’s transport system is accessible and inclusive of people with disability. The call comes in response to the announcement from the Federal Government of reforms to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.
PWDA President Marayke Jonkers has called the proposed reforms a step in the right direction but wants to see further action taken to deliver improvements for the disability community.
"Public transport is critical infrastructure which allows people with disability to participate fully in the community and live free and equal lives. For too long our transport system has been inaccessible and unreliable impacting our access to services, education and employment.
“The introduction of accessible information formats and onboard next-stop announcements will help reduce these barriers, but more action is needed. The reforms and the Disability Standards must be applied to the whole transport system including private transport providers like rideshare services, school buses and air travel services,” Ms Jonkers said.
PWDA is also calling for robust regulatory frameworks and compliance mechanisms to ensure the Disability Standards are enforced.
We need clear mechanisms to ensure the Disability Standards are enforced with penalties for those who don’t follow them. Treating violations of these standards as unlawful discrimination under the Disability Discrimination Act would be a major improvement, so the onus shifts onto transport providers to provide accessible transport compliant with the Transport Standard” Ms Jonkers said.
PWDA has also highlighted the missed opportunity to improve the accessibility of air travel.
“We need commitments to make air travel more accessible. The Aviation White Paper must deliver concrete improvements to make every aspect of taking a flight accessible,” Ms Jonkers said.
PWDA has called for ongoing consultation and co-design with people with disability and their representative organisations as the reforms are rolled out.
“People with disability must be in the driver’s seat as these reforms are implemented, ” Ms Jonkers said.

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