Conciliated outcomes: Goods, services and facilities

Updated October 2009 . For more recent outcomes please refer to the Commission's conciliation register

See also the more specific pages on conciliation of transport and insurance complaints and complaints about access to premises.

Museum access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that when she took her 11 year old nephew to a museum as part of an interstate family holiday, he was denied access to important parts of the collection on the basis of her disability. Children under 12 were required to be accompanied by an adult; access to some of the exhibits was not feasible for the complainant because of her disability; and the respondent had declined a request to permit the boy to be accompanied by a museum staff member instead.

The complaint was resolved when the museum agreed to provide airfares and accommodation costs to allow the nephew and an adult to come from their home state to return to visit the museum; to counsel its staff about service for people with a disability and their associates; and to amend its Disability Action Plan to refer to the service needs of associates of people with a disability.

In another complaint, a number of Deaf and hearing impaired people complained that a museum was not accessible to people who are deaf or have a hearing impairment. The complaint was resolved with the respondent agreeing to implement a number of measures to improve accessibility including:

•  installation of two public phones with variable volume control and induction loop;

•  provision, upon request, of a portable TTY keyboard appliance that can be used in conjunction with the public payphones;

•  installation of cash registers with outward facing displays;

•  provision of disability access information on its website;

•  incorporating training on customer service to Deaf people and people with a hearing impairment into existing staff training;

•  reviewing access to exhibitions and facilities at the museum, including audio-visual installations, films, and lectures;

•  provision of verbal information in alternative formats pending outcome of the review; and

•  review of signage at the museum

Interpreting in hospital

A man who is Deaf complained that during a two week stay in hospital he was not provided with an Auslan interpreter. The hospital argued that effective communication had been conducted through written notes and other means. The complaint was resolved with the hospital paying $8,000 compensation.

On line shopping access

A woman who is blind complained that some features of an online shopping side were inaccessible. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that it was in the process of upgrading its website to improve accessibility, and agreed to provide the complainant with shopping credits to the value of $460.00 and to include her in accessibility testing for the upgraded site.

2008

Cinema captioning expanded

A woman who is deaf complained that several suburban cinemas in her area did not provide captioned films. The complaint was resolved when the cinema chain agreed to extend captioning facilities and screenings to one of the three locations involved.

Website access

A man who has a vision impairment complained that a utility provider's website was inaccessible to him. Problems included text with fixed font sizes which users could not enlarge for viewing, and inadequate colour contrasts. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to upgrade the site to meet World Wide Web Consortium accessibility requirements.

Television captioning increases

A number of deaf and hearing impaired people complained that they were being discriminated against in access to broadcast television programming because not all programs were captioned. The complaints were resolve when the broadcasters advised they had committed to a further round of increases in captioning levels pursuant to a temporary exemption approved by the Commission (see the Exemptions page for details).

It's a long way to the shop

A woman who uses a mobility aid complained that access in the aisles of a local shop was frequently blocked by stacked boxes. The complaint was resolved when shop management agreed to improve customer feedback procedures so that management could be aware sooner of access problems and address them.

In another complaint a woman who uses an electric wheelchair complained that the entrance to her local supermarket was not wide enough for her to enter and that she thus had to wait for people to complete their purchases so she could enter through the accessible checkout exit. The complaint was resolved when the supermarket agreed to reposition fittings to provide a more accessible entrance.

Alternatives to credit card

A man with an intellectual disability complained that he had been unable to book holiday accommodation at several venues because a credit card was required. He had not been able to gain access to a credit card because of his low income from Disability Support Pension payments. The complaint was settled when the venues agreed to accept alternative forms of payment.

Hotel access features upgraded

A number of people with physical disability complained that a hotel where they had attended a conference had a series of access barriers. The complaints were resolved when the hotel agreed to conduct an access audit and implement a number of upgrades to premises and procedures, including an access features checklist for guests, renovation of sections of the reception desk, bar and buffet which were too high, and improved signage.

Hearing loop access

A man who uses a hearing aid complained that he had been unable to participate effectively in a quasi-regulatory process because the organisation responsible had not provided a functioning hearing loop. The complaint was resolved when the organisation responsible agreed to install hearing loops in a number of its meeting rooms.

Regional cinema captioning

A man who is deaf complained that movies at the cinema in the regional town where he lives did not have captions. The complaint was resolved when the cinema agreed to install captioning display equipment and schedule three captioned screenings per week.

Hotel access for man with intellectual and physical disability

A man who has an intellectual disability and a back injury affecting his gait complained that he had been refused access to a public bar because staff mistakenly thought he was intoxicated. The complaint was resolved when the hotel apologised and advised that they had adopted a procedure intended to avoid such incidents recurring, including requiring staff to check with the most senior manager present if a person appeared intoxicated but had identified themselves as having a disability.

Large print bills

A woman who has a vision impairment complained that she had been charged late fees for failing to pay bills which she could not read as the utility company did not provide bills in large print. The complaint was resolved when the company agreed to waive the late fees and to provide large print bills on request.

Accessible banking

A woman who has a vision impairment complained that the online banking facilities of her credit union were not accessible to her because of the manner in which security features had been implemented. The complaint was resolved when the credit union agreed to upgrade its site to provide an accessible method for verifying identity.

Discrimination disconnected

A man who experienced a workplace injury complained that a mobile phone provider refused him a phone contract because it did not regard income from workcover payments as sufficiently secure. The complaint was resolved when the provider agreed to remove this discriminatory policy.

Hearing access at hotel

A number of Deaf and hearing impaired people complained that a hotel did not provide accessible facilities. The complaint was resolved when the hotel undertook to develop an action plan in consultation with disability community representatives, including

  • replacement of all existing televisions not able to support teletext with sets which do provide this capacity
  • fitting of visual emergency warning strobe lights in a range of different classes of room and in selected public areas
  • review of emergency procedures and staff training to ensure safety and equal service for guests with disability
  • purchase of hospitality kits for hearing impaired guests including TTY enabled and hearing aid compatible phones and visual doorbell.

2007

  • A woman who is blind complained that a professional software package was not accessible to people using screen reading technology. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that it had commenced an accessibility project with the aim that accessibility would be provided in a forthcoming version of the software.
  • A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that a medical specialist's rooms were not accessible. The specialist advised that he had several times requested the building owner to install ramp access but had been refused. The building owner was added as a respondent to the complaint. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide access during planned renovations.
  • A young man who uses a wheelchair complained that when he attended a roller skating rink with friends he was required to leave the floor and that no accessible toilets had been available. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to upgrade physical access at the venue and to develop a policy on participation by people with disabilities.
  • A man who is blind complained that account information with his credit union was available only in print. The complaint was resolved when the respondent advised that web based access to account information had been upgraded.
  • A woman who has a disability and uses a scooter complained that the accessible change room in a clothing store was unavailable to her because it was being used as a storeroom. The complaint was resolved when store management agreed to keep the change room clear for its required use.
  • A woman with a physical disability complained that restrictions on outdoor water use to use of handheld hoses only prevented her from watering her garden at all . The complaint was resolved when the water authority issued her a permit allowing use of a sprinkler to the same extent as would have been permitted for handheld watering.
  • A mother of children with disabilities complained that she had been required to pay for tickets for her children's carers as well as for the children when they attended an entertainment event. The complaint was resolved when the venue advised that there had been a misunderstanding by its staff in applying its policies which did provide for carers to enter without charge where required for a person with a disability to participate in events.
  • A man who is blind complained that a television competition was inaccessible to him because it required being able to see a key word flashed on screen. The complaint was resolved when the television station advised that it would adopt and apply Commercial Television Australia 's code on audio captioning which involves providing audio versions wherever possible of text used in emergency announcements, news flashes, competition entry details and sports and competition results.
  • A woman who has a disability and uses a scooter complained that access to a clothing store had been blocked by placement of mobile racks. The complaint was resolved when the store advised that it had revised its procedures to ensure access would be kept clear and provided a $100 gift voucher .
  • A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that a new digital television service, not included in previous Commission exemption decisions and conciliated agreements under the DDA, did not provide captioning. The complaint was resolved when the provider agreed to caption three programs nominated by the complainant and to examine options for further expansion of captioning.

 

2006

Accessible signs and catalogues

A man who has a vision impairment complained that signs at his local library were not accessible to him. The complaint was resolved when the council agreed to provide staff assistance with advance notice; conduct staff training on disability access; increase the print size on charts in the library; investigate adaptive technology including large print catalogues and audio catalogues and provide updates on this after 6 months.

Adjustment to water restrictions procedure

A woman with a physical disability complained that she was unable to water her garden within the restrictions imposed by her council, which permitted watering within daylight hours only using a bucket or watering can which she could not lift. She could use a hose but her condition made her too tired in the evenings when this was permitted. The complaint was resolved when the council revised its policy to permit limited hose watering where a person could produce medical evidence of inability to use a bucket or watering can.

Online access to IT help

A woman with a hearing impairment complained that when she sought help from an information technology company with a recently purchased product she was told that assistance was only available over the phone rather than by email. The complaint was settled when the respondent company apologized, offered 12 months free access to a service upgrade, and advised that the advice had been given in error through the customer service officer missing the notification in the customer's email that she had a hearing impairment, as in this case company policy documents did provide for online assistance as well as having procedures for assisting customers using TTY relay services.  

Inaccessible disability equipment service relocated

A disability advocacy service complained that one of its clients who uses a wheelchair lacked adequate access to a PADP (Program of Appliances for Disabled People) service at a hospital. The complaint was settled with an agreement to relocate the service to an accessible facility no later than June 2006; to develop a disability access plan; and to move the service back to accessible premises within the hospital on completion of construction of new hospital buildings.

Opportunity to be tested for licence

A man who had one arm amputated at the elbow 30 years ago after suffering a hit and run accident complained that he was not being permitted to hold a licence to drive a manual car without modifications or ride a motorcycle without using a prosthetic arm. The complaint was settled when the licensing authority agreed to test the complainant for these purposes in the presence of an independent occupational therapist.

2005

Access to government website

A man who has a vision impairment complained that a State Government Department's website was not accessible, so that he was not able to make fully informed comments on proposed legislation in the area. The complaint was resolved when the Department advised that it was undertaking a major project to achieve accessibility of its sites and documents; that all new documents from July 2005 would be provided in accessible formats on site and that any existing documents would be provided in accessible formats on request.

Accessible bills

A woman who is blind complained that a utility company did not provide bills in an accessible format. She was seeking access to online billing as a private and convenient method of payment. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to provide in Braille a document setting out the range of payment options; continue a pilot project of providing summary bills in Braille; and make electronic text format bills available within 30 months.

Access to medical services

A man who has quadriplegia and uses a wheelchair complained that a radiology service refused to carry out x-ray or ultrasound procedures unless he provided his own hoist or assistants to transfer him from his wheelchair. The complaint was settled when the radiology service advised that it had purchased a transfer device and agreed to provide training to staff in responding appropriately to clients with disabilities.

Access to finance for vision impaired customers

A woman who is blind complained that she had been discriminated against when a credit provider refused to accept the Blind Citizens Australia identity card in place of a driver's licence, and required her to obtain legal advice as she could not read the printed contract herself. The matter was resolved when the respondent agrees to accept the Blind Citizens Australia card, to permit contracts to be read to a vision impaired person by an independent person rather than requiring a lawyer, and to investigate production of contracts in accessible formats.

Electoral access

A woman who has a mobility disability complained that a polling place did not provide adequate access, including the distance required to be traversed from accessible parking. The complaint was resolved when the electoral authority agreed to raise the issues concerned with its disability advisory committee.

Access to adventure experience

A man who has one hand complained that a tour operator excluded him from parts of its experience which involved climbing ladders, so that he was separated from the rest of the group and felt humiliated. The complaint was settled with a refund of the costs of his visit, an apology and an undertaking to review the operator's policies.

Access to medical facilities

A woman whose elderly mother uses a wheelchair complained about inaccessible facilities when her mother went to an X-ray appointment at a suburban radiography clinic. There were no accessible toilet facilities in that handrails were lacking and there was limited room to manoeuvre or for an assistant; the change room was too small to accommodate a person in a wheelchair; and there was no assistance available to assist in transferring to the X-ray table.

The respondent regraded provision of an accessible toilet as involving unjustifiable hardship. Only one radiographer was on site at any time and additional assistance was not available.

The matter was settled with agreement to install a support rail in the patient toilet and to provide advice in advance of limitations on available assistance.

Food counter access

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he could not see the food options at the counter because a queuing bar had been placed too close to the counter. The complaint was resolved when the respondent agreed to remove the bar and if necessary only relocate it in accordance with Australian Standards on access.

Airline bookings for hearing dog users

A man who has a hearing impairment and uses a hearing dog complained that an airline he wished to travel with requested notice of passengers being accompanied by a hearing dog, but that this notice could only be provided by booking by phone and not through the more convenient and economical online booking facility. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it was revising its online booking facility to include the ability to note requirements such as being accompanied by an assistance animal.

Riders with disabilities

Parents complained that a horse riding excursion arranged for their adult children with disabilities by a respite care service had been cancelled on discriminatory grounds. The riding venue raised concerns about insurance coverage for riders with disabilities and staff supervision and other safety issues. The complaint was settled when the respondent apologised and agreed to develop guidelines for assessing all potential riders for safety.

Transfers of mental health patients

A woman who has a mental illness complained that she had been discriminated against by excessive security requirements when her illness required her to be transferred to a capital city hospital. She had been required to be sedated, restrained and accompanied by a police escort. The respondent advised that restraint and escort were considered standard safety requirements for transporting involuntary patients to prevent incidents in transit. The complaint was resolved with an agreement by the provider to review relevant aspects of its guidelines.

Wheelchair access to and on aircraft

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that his own wheelchair had not been returned promptly for use after arrival on two flights, and that on one of these occasions he had been provided only with an aisle chair for a substantial period depriving him of independent movement and requiring him to request assistance to get to the bathroom, which he found degrading. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed to refund the cost of the flights, update its disability awareness training for cabin crew and check in staff, and investigate the provision of independently operable wheelchairs at ports to provide a backup option for independent mobility in the event of delays in restoring a passenger's access to his or her own chair.

Captioned cinema in regional town

A woman who is deaf complained that her local cinema complex did not have regular screenings of captioned films. The respondent pointed to delays in gaining access to captioned prints until city showings were finished (using the current approach of producing a small number of prints of a film with captions burned in permanently, which as noted elsewhere on this site is being replaced with a more flexible digital system) and consequent difficulties in attracting patronage. However, the complaint was settled with an agreement to introduce one captioned film each month with showings on Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings.

Managing chemicals

A man who stated that he has sensitivities to a range of chemicals complained that a retail shop was inaccessible to him because of strong fragrances worn by checkout staff. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the store agreed to request staff to avoid strong fragrances, and to raise with its departments issues of use of the least toxic paints, glues and building materials available, non-allergenic carpeting, and warnings when toxic materials were present.

2004

Independent access to banking withdrawals

A women who has a vision impairment complained that her bank no longer provided guide templates to enable her to fill in details on withdrawal forms independently. The matter was settled when the bank advised that although it had withdrawn the templates in response to reduced demand, it would conduct trials of a new template and reintroduce the template subject to those trials.

Supermarket obstacles removed

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that her local supermarket did not provide effective access because of barriers including displays and goods stacked in the aisles. The complaint was settled when the supermarket agreed to remove turnstile barriers at the entrance, ensure that the accessible checkout lane was always one of those open, convey instructions to staff about keeping passages clear, and remodel displays to avoid these presenting a barrier.

Access to video hire

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that his local video store was not accessible, so that to hire a video he had to knock on the window, wait for a staff member to come, ask them to find a particular video and wait for them to come back with the video if it was available, rather than browsing and choosing like other customers. The matter was settled when the video store and the building owner agreed to each meet half the cost of a portable ramp, enabling the customer to enter and choose his own videos.

Communication for hearing impaired patients

A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that when attending hospital for treatment of related medical issues she had information given to her orally and through friends rather than in writing as requested. The matter was settled with an apology, and an undertaking that disability awareness training of staff would be enhanced and note takers would be provided for communication with hearing impaired people on request.

Access to bills

A woman who has a vision impairment complained that a communications company only provided bills in paper form. They had offered Braille but (in common with many people who lose vision late in life) she did not read Braille. The matter was settled when the company agreed to provide bills in large font form.

In another case, a woman who is blind complained that a communications company was discriminating against her in only providing accounts in print and advising that provision of accounts in Braille or electronic form was not a service it provided. The matter was resolved when the respondent company agreed to provide accounts by email and to pay for a software upgrade for the complainant to access the accounts in the format provided.

Information in health service

A woman with a vision impairment complained that a medical centre she attended for a pain management program did not provide program information in an accessible format. The centre advised that it did not have the materials available electronically and had been concerned about the expense of making audio tapes professionally. The matter was settled without admission of liability with an agreement to pay $5000 damages and to provide the material in an accessible format.

Fragrance free access

A man who has adverse reactions to perfumes complained that he was unable to access his local pharmacy because of fragrances, in particular near the checkout area. The matter was settled when the pharmacy chain agreed to develop a system of zones in its premises including fragrance free aisles, and a home delivery service.

Access to course materials

A man with a reading disability complained that when he attended a course on relationship issues he was not provided with forms and materials in a form he could access. A tutor had read out the form and filled in details for him but this had been done in front of the class. The respondent had advised it did not have the time or money to put materials on tape. The matter was resolved when the respondent apologised and agreed to request providers of course materials to provide materials on tape or give permission for the respondent to place materials on tape.

Child care access for child requiring assistance in feeding

A mother complained that her son, who required feeding through a naso-gastric tube due to a disability, had been discriminated against when the child care centre he attended advised that staff would not be able to feed him or give medication through the tube. The complaint was settled when the centre agreed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that staff with training in this method of feeding were available.

TTY access

A woman who is deaf complained that a Commonwealth Government service provision agency failed to provide TTY access in circumstances where standard telephone access was part of the service provided. The complaint was settled when the agency agreed to install TTY facilities in each of its offices where existing customers were identified as being deaf or hearing or speech impaired and to install TTYs within 28 days at any office where a new customer requiring TTY access was identified, and to train its staff in use of TTYs.

Driving licence for man with physical disability

A man who had lost his lower right arm complained that he was being subjected to unreasonable requirements to gain his drivers licence. The complaint was settled when the licencing authority advised that the man had been granted a provisional licence on condition that he drive a car fitted with appropriately adjusted controls for steering and indication.

Interpreting in court

A woman who has high frequency deafness and relies extensively on lipreading complained that an aural interpreter had not always been provided in court proceedings she was involved in and that when an interpreter was provided requests to repeat matters or slow down to allow accurate interpreting had not been complied with. The complaint was settled with an apology, an undertaking to ensure provision of an interpreter whenever requested in future, and a commitment to ensure disability awareness training for relevant staff.

Electoral access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that no accessible booth was planned to be in place in her area for a local government election. The complaint was settled when the electoral authority undertook to make every effort to ensure availability of an accessible booth in the postcode area concerned for the forthcoming election; and to identify and secure accessible venues in each area so as to ensure a minimum of 50% accessible booths at general elections.

Post box access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the slots on street posting boxes were too high to reach. The complaint was settled when the respondent, although arguing that replacement of all its post boxes would be unreasonable, agreed to develop a prototype accessible post box by September 2004, and trial its installation at selected locations.

Hearing loop access in cinema chain

A number of people with hearing impairments complained that a group of cinemas either did not have hearing augmentation installed or else did not have staff trained in use of the equipment. The complaint was settled with an agreement by the cinema group to install infrared hearing augmentation systems in all its cinemas, place appropriate signage and train staff in the operation of the systems.

In another case a man who used a hearing aid complained that although a cinema chain had hearing loops installed they frequently did not work. The complaint was settled when the cinema chain agreed to check all hearing loops and to recheck every 6 months.

Access to bank

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that ATM facilities at his bank in a regional town were not accessible because the ramp gradient was too steep. The complaint was settled when the bank advised that works to rectify access were underway, and agreed to refund fees incurred because customers with disabilities had had to use another bank's facilities.

Captioning of television advertisements

A man who is deaf complained that a car maker did not caption its television advertisements. The complaint was settled when the car maker agreed to caption all future ads, and the advertising agency agreed to use its best endeavours to encourage all its clients to caption their ads.

Hearing loop for council meetings

A woman who has a hearing impairment and is a member of a local government access committee complained that she was unable to hear or participate properly in council meetings because the council did not provide a hearing loop in its chambers. The matter was resolved when the council agreed to install a hearing loop an dpublic address system.

Wildlife experience access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that a wildlife viewing centre had been permitted to move from an accessible to an inaccessible venue. The matter was settled with payment of financial compensation and agreement by the venue to install suitable access.

2003

Phone service restored for hearing aid user

A woman who has a hearing impairment complained that when the induction loop in her mobile phone failed, so that the phone would not work with her hearing aid and she was unable to run her business, the supplier indicated they were unable to replace or repair it. The complaint was settled when the phone was replaced.

Car rental with guide dog

A woman whose daughter is blind and uses a guide dog complained that a car rental company had refused to rent them a car because they would be accompanied by the dog. The complaint was settled when the company undertook to ensure its staff and franchisees were aware of relevant requirements of the DDA and other legislation recognising guide dogs.

Accommodating Tourette's syndrome

A man who has Tourette's syndrome (which can lead to involuntary outbursts of offensive language) and an obsessive compulsive disorder complained that he had been barred from a massage centre after an incident. The matter was settled with mutual apologies over the incident and the adoption of an improved procedure for handling complaints.

Supermarket access

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that the accessible checkout lanes at his local supermarket are frequently closed and that in any event the EFTPOS machine is located too high to reach. The matter was conciliated when the supermarket agreed to ensure that at least one accessible lane will always be open.

Auslan interpreters in health care

A woman and her husband, both of whom are deaf, complained that when they attended a private hospital they were told they would only be given an interpreter if they paid for the costs themselves. The complaint was settled when the hospital advised that it had changed its policy on interpreters to include Auslan and arranged disability awareness training for emergency department staff and all new staff.

Proof of age for people with disabilities

A 27 year old woman with an intellectual disability complained she had been denied entry to a hotel when she could not produce proof that she was over 18 as she lacked a driving licence. The complaint was settled when the hotel agreed to accept a copy of the woman's birth certificate as proof and to lobby in support of a generally available and acceptable proof of age card.

Food festival access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that many of the stands at a major food festival had been placed up on inaccessible platforms. The matter was settled when the organisers apologised, reimbursed the complainant's entry fee and promised to ensure that future festivals would be accessible.

Captioning of political advertising

A man who has a hearing impairment complained that a political party's television campaign advertisements in a State election were not accessible to him because they were not captioned. The matter was settled when the party agreed that all future television advertising would be captioned.

Assistants accommodated for football matches

A number of people with disabilities which mean that they require personal assistance complained that they were being discriminated against by having to pay for tickets for their assistants as well as themselves when attending football matches. The complaint was settled when the respondents advised that they would join the "Companion Card" scheme being implemented in their State providing free entry for a person accompanying a person requiring an assistant, and would make their own interim arrangements for free entry for assistants accompanying a person with a disability.

Amusement park ride access

A mother complained that her daughter who has a physical disability had been discriminated against by being denied access to rides at an amusement park. The park operators referred to safety concerns for people who could not enter and exit unassisted. The complaint was settled however when they advised they had adjusted the physical requirements for a number of rides to allow for assisted entry and exit and arranged for provision of an escort service for people with disabilities.

Hearing loop at theatre

A father complained that he and his children, who have hearing impairments, were being discriminated against because the respondent cinema did not have a hearing loop system to provide him and the children with equal access to the movie soundtrack. The complaint was settled with an agreement to install a hearing loop system covering at least 80% of the seating by June 2004; to maintain the loop and train staff in its use; and to provide appropriate signage and a seating map indicating which seats were covered by the loop.

Harbour cruise boat access

A woman whose husband has had both legs amputated complained that a harbour cruise which the couple had booked was not wheelchair accessible without assistance although she had been assured when booking that access was provided. The complaint was settled when the operator agreed to update its website and other information to ensure that accurate information was provided on the requirements for access to its boats.

Gym access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the gym she wanted to join was not accessible to her. The matter was settled when the gym advised that although they could not agree to make the existing gym accessible, since the building was scheduled for demolition in the near future and their lease was expiring, they would ensure that the new premises to replace it were accessible.

Club adjusts drinks service

A woman whose toes had been amputated complained that she had been discriminated against when her club refused to serve her cans of drink unopened. Her disability affected her walk and meant she could not carry drinks without spilling. The complaint was settled when the club agreed to serve her unopened cans.

Customer correspondence in accessible format

A woman who is blind complained that a major service provision organisation does not provide her with correspondence in a form that she can access. She has been offered a service of having her correspondence read to her over the telephone but she does not believe that this provides a comparable service or facility to a client who receives a letter they can read.

The respondent acknowledged that the complainant's letters are not provided in Braille at this time but that it does offer the option to people who are blind to have their letters read to them. It claimed that it recognises the importance to its customers having information in easy read formats and has been developing a project that will identify how customers prefer to be contacted. It expects in the future to be able to respond to individual customers such as the complainant in a more personalised way, taking into account their particular needs and preferences for the way in which they receive correspondence.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation with an agreement being signed that the respondent would have the complainant's correspondence scanned onto disc and sent to her home and that a nominee will contact her to advise her that the disc has been posted to her.

Television information in audio format

A man who is blind complained that he he could not access information on commercial television stations which was displayed visually during television programs and promotions (such as competition entry details and phone numbers) because it was not accompanied by audio information. A conciliation conference was held and the parties agreed that the industry body would develop industry guidelines for audio captioning which would be widely distributed both internally and externally to producers of material for broadcasting. The industry guidelines will require audio captioning of on-screen textual information to be provided wherever reasonable and practicable, relating to emergency announcements, details of competitions, news flashes and sports results. The aim of the guidelines (to be developed by July 2003) is to ensure that audio captioning is applied consistently across the television networks.

Service in shop

A war veteran who, although able to stand, uses a wheelchair for mobility, complained that he was discriminated against in a shop by being ignored by staff and refused assistance in getting items from high shelves when he asked for help. The complaint was resolved when the respondent provided a free sample of its product, apologized and explained that the customer service officer had been busy and had not noticed that the complainant had a disability.

Access to film festival

A man who has quadriplegia and uses an electric wheelchair complained that when he went to see several films during a film festival, some of the theatres in which festival films were screened were not accessible and that he was given incorrect information by festival staff regarding the wheelchair accessibility of festival venues. He also states that the festival website did not have information on the wheelchair accessibility of venues.

The Festival agreed to provide information about wheelchair accessibility of the cinemas on its website. It also agreed to improve the training of its staff for future festivals and encourage the venues that it uses to improve their wheelchair accessibility. The cinemas agreed to consider the complainant's concerns in any future renovations to be done at the cinema. It also agreed to improve the training of its staff in the wheelchair accessibility of the cinema.

Saying goodbye

A woman complained that when her ex-husband died and was found to have had the hepatitis C virus, although she advised the funeral service that it was of cultural importance for friends and family of the deceased as an Aboriginal person to be able to kiss and/or touch the deceased to say good-bye, this opportunity was denied to them

The respondent confirmed that it did advise mourners that it might be wiser not to touch the body as the deceased had a communicable disease but denied restraining or preventing anyone from touching the body.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation. An agreement was signed without admission of liability that the funeral service would make a commitment to respecting the cultural practices of people of Aboriginal descent in the "sorry business", to waive the $350 owed to it by the complainant, continue to attend appropriate training and pay the complainant $1,000 general damages.

Access to government information

A man who has a vision impairment complained that a government department's website service was not accessible to him because of the format that it was provided in. The complainant advised that he was willing to withdraw his complaint if the respondent modified the website so that it complied with the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines either directly or through an accessible alternative. The department responded with a draft website accessibility action plan. The plan details the actions the respondent will take to provide access to its materials in alternative formats. In the interim the complainant was also provided with text versions of all the documents which he required from the website. The complainant advised that he was satisfied with plan proposed by the respondent and he thanked the Commission for its assistance with this matter.

Service when accompanied by trained animal

A man who is blind and uses a guide dog complained that when he went to lunch at the respondent family restaurant, staff questioned him about having his guide dog accompany him and insinuated that he did not in fact have any vision impairment. He claimed that the manager waved his hand in front of his eyes to check whether he could see it. A conciliation conference was conducted and the respondent agree to provide a verbal apology, reinforce staff training in disability awareness issues and to pay the complainant $1,000 to compensate for the distress he experienced.

2002

Access to banking services

A woman who is blind complained that her bank had discriminated against her by not providing accessible banking services, specifically accessible Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Internet banking services. The complaint was withdrawn when the bank advised that:

  • it recognised that many ATMs were not accessible to people who are blind;
  • it is playing an active part in industry efforts to identify and implement solutions, including industry working groups which aim to establish industry standards for ATM's and Internet Banking as well as Interactive Voice Response and EFTPOS, arising from HREOC's accessible e-commerce inquiry;.
  • it also is in the process of improving accessibility for people with disabilities by introducing standard screen functions across the ATM network;
  • customers who cannot access ATMs are entitled to fee concessions;
  • it is currently developing an audio output ATM.

Hotels provide television captioning

A woman with a hearing impairment complained that a hotel she stayed in did not provide text facilities on in-house television for movies, cable television etc.
The complaint was resolved when the hotel agreed to install 3 teletext televisions into the hotel. Further teletext televisions would be installed into all hotel rooms as televisions require replacement. Availability of caption facilities would also be included in the hotel brochure, and notified to the Australian Caption Centre for publication on its website.

A number of similar complaints led to similar agreements by other hotels during 2001-2002, including one chain which agreed to install teletext facilities in 10% of all rooms and to give a 15% discount to deaf people until that target was achieved.

Mobile phones for disability pensioners

A man who receives a disability pension complained that because of this he had been refused service by a mobile phone provider. The company confirmed that it did not service people who receive disability pensions (or sole parent pensions) because it regarded them as presenting too high a risk of non-payment. After a conciliation conference the company agreed to provide service to the complainant.

Fee waived for easy call facility

A man who has cerebral palsy complained that he was charged an extra fee for easy dial facilities which for him were essential to be able to use the phone, rather than being an add on feature as for other customers. The complaint was settled when the telecommunications company agreed to waive the fee for this facility for people whose disability made dialling difficult.

Religious access

A woman with a disability complained that a priest at a place of worship had told people in wheelchairs to sit on the floor as this was the rule in temples in India. The complaint was settled when the religious organisation advised that the incident had been an error by a visiting priest who was not aware of the organisation's policy which did permit adjustments to general practices to provide access.

Web site access

A woman who is blind complained that a real estate information site was inaccessible because it could not be read by her screen reader software. The complaint was resolved when the organisation which maintains the site made changes to ensure the site was accessible.

Festival facilities

A woman with a mobility impairment complained that portable toilets supplied by a festival in a regional town were not accessible. The complaint was withdrawn when the festival provided information on efforts it had undertaken to secure accessible toilets in the region and confirmed that it would undertake additional measures for this purpose in future.

2001

Access to choice of goods

A woman who has rheumatoid arthritis complained that she was unable to choose from a selection of goods available on the second floor of a local store as she is unable to use stairs. Staff were prepared to bring samples down for her but this was time consuming and provided only partial access. The complaint was resolved when the store undertook a rearrangement of displays to provide a wider range on the accessible floor.

Higher price for accessible cruise cabin

The daughter of a woman who has had a stroke and uses a wheelchair complained that she had been discriminated against on the basis of the mother's disability when she booked cabins on a cruise boat. Only outside cabins, which were higher priced, were accessible, and there were also access problems with an associated tour. After a conciliation conference the complaint was settled with an agreement to reimburse the cost of the tour and improve accessibility information.

Ticket dispensing machines reviewed

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that her bank had installed a ticket dispensing machine which she was unable to access because she could not reach the ticket dispenser. The bank advised that it understood that the machine had been made in accordance with Australian Standards and therefore should be accessible. However, it was willing to attend a conciliation conference to discuss the issues the complainant was having with the machines. The complaint was resolved with the respondent agreeing to engage the services of a design engineer to study the designs of the machine and ensure it does meet with Australian Standards. It further agreed to ensure that at the branches which the complainant used regularly the ticket dispensing machines are accessible for her.

Carer attendance at camp

A woman complained on behalf of her daughter, aged 8, who has cerebral palsy and requires a higher level of assistance than other members of the respondent community sporting organisation. The complaint was that the organisation had levied a charge to cover the living costs at a sporting camp for the girl's one-to-one attendant. Other camp members were provided with volunteer general helpers and were not charged for their living costs. The complaint was resolved when the respondent agreed to accept the girl's enrolment at the next camp without charging for her carer, and to initiate a policy for any other children who require individual attendants to attend future camps without charge for their carers' living costs.

ATM access

A man who is blind complained that his bank's ATM's are inaccessible to him. The complaint was settled when the bank agreed to adopt an industry standard on ATM access which had recently been negotiated with assistance from the Commission.

Accessible bills

A woman who is blind complained that her mobile phone bills were notprovided in a form accessible to her. The complaint was settled when the telecommunications company agrees to provide bills in Braille.

2000

Truck driver's licence

A man complained he had been discriminated against when he was refused a heavy vehicle licence because he did not meet the visual acuity standard prescribed. The complaint was settled when the licensing body advised that a review of requirements meant the man could now be tested for a truck licence.

Enforcement of disabled parking spaces

A woman with a mobility impairment complained that use of disabled parking at her local supermarket was not policed, so that these parking spaces were in practice seldom available for people with disabilities. The complaint was settled when the store advised it had commenced a trial of enforcement by council officers in co-operation with the local council.

Entertainment centre access

A man who uses a wheelchair for mobility complained that when he rang the respondent to purchase two tickets to a concert to be held in 5 weeks time he was advised that the wheelchair accessible spaces were sold out. The complainant was advised that wheelchair spaces were provided to people with a range of other disabilities who could also have used standard seats. The complaint was settled with agreement to a revised ticketing policy to give priority to wheelchair users for an wheelchair accessible spaces until 7 days before an event.

Video hire membership

A young woman with an intellectual disability complained that she had been refused membership of a video hire store. The store appeared to have believed that because of her disability she would not be able to be responsible in returning videos. The complaint was settled with an apology and payment of compensation.

Access to regulatory documents

A number of people with vision impairments complained that an agency issuing a draft regulatory document with particular relevance to vision impaired people had refused to provide this document in Braille. The matter was settled when the respondent agreed to provide a Braille version and to extend the consultation period to enable Braille users to participate.

Deaf access to tourist experience

Two deaf people complained that they had been discriminated against when a tourist adventure experience failed to provide them with Auslan interpreting or a printed copy of the commentary provided by the guide on the experience. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the respondent advised it had made arrangements as follows: two sessions per month with interpreting provided; trials of a hearing loop on the experience; a booklet for deaf participants and a summary sheet of instructions for the experience; and free participation for the complainants to enable them to provide feedback on these arrangements.

1999

Physical accessibility of fast food chain

A woman complained that her daughter who uses a wheelchair was being discriminated against because of disability, due to access limitations of most of the restaurants in her local area of a major fast food chain, in that

  • because of fixed seating she could not sit comfortably at tables and had to sit in the aisle, blocking access for other patrons and requiring meals to be interrupted frequently for her to be moved to let them pass
  • in some restaurants where her wheelchair would not fit in the aisle she was unable to eat in the dining area at all
  • heavy front doors made it difficult for her to enter the restaurant
  • in most of the restaurants concerned the toilets were not accessible
  • some of the restaurants lacked an accessible route from parking spaces to the restaurant. 

Although settlement negotiations were complicated by different views of how far the parent organisation was responsible for and in a position to direct actions of holders of existing franchises, the complaint was ultimately settled without admission of liability on the basis that the respondent company would prepare and implement an Action Plan in accordance with a draft agreed with the complainant. The draft provided for an access audit of all sites, access improvements identified as required to be undertaken by the company at sites operated by itself, and the company to assist franchisees to undertake required improvements at franchised sites. A number of modifications to particular restaurants were also agreed and implemented during the course of the negotiations on the wording of the Action Plan.

Provision of Auslan interpreter by health service

The complainant and her husband are profoundly deaf. The complainant's husband accompanied her when she was admitted to hospital for the birth of their second child. The complainant requested that an Auslan interpreter be available for her but no interpreter was provided. The baby was delivered by emergency caesarean section. The baby sustained an injury during the surgery and was taken away to be assessed for surgery. The complainant stated that she and her husband had no idea what was happening and the process was terrifying for them. Eventually, a doctor wrote a note which explained why the baby had been taken away. On another occasion the complainant attended the outpatient department of the same hospital and no interpreter was provided. The complainant alleged that the hospital had discriminated against her on the ground of her disability.

The hospital stated that staff were of the understanding that the complainant had sufficient lip-reading skills to ensure effective communication. The respondent claimed that staff did not rule out getting an interpreter but due to the emergency circumstances surrounding the birth there was insufficient time to make such arrangements. The hospital acknowledged that the process would have been frightening but said that had an interpreter been present there would have been minimal communication between staff and the complainant as staff were focused on the surgery.

The complaint was resolved by conciliation with the respondent agreeing to pay the complainant $7,500 in compensation and to introduce a policy whereby interpreters would be provided at every consultation with deaf patients.

1998

Blind access to information kiosks

A woman who is blind complained that a government department had discriminated against her because information kiosks installed by them were not accessible to her. The complaint was settled without admission of liability by an agreement for the respondent to

  • submit to the National Federation of Blind Citizens Australia (NFBCA) by February 1998 a proposal for a trial to improve accessibility of the kiosk to blind and vision impaired users through installation at one kiosk of a telephone handset linking the user to an operator, and advise NFBCA by March 1998 of a timetable for implementation of the proposed trial
  • meet with the complainant or NFBCA at three month intervals unless otherwise agreed, to discuss progress in relation to
    • the telephone handset trial,
    • the installation and operation of telephone handset facilities at other kiosks
    • transition to internet based technology
    • development and application of touchscreen based technology with speech output capacity
    • other options for increasing the accessibility of information presented through the kiosks.

Access to cafe service

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was discriminated against by the lack of access to the inside area of a Sydney city cafe, which was up five stairs. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the proprietors agreed to install a buzzer at an accessible point to enable patrons requiring service at the outside tables to attract attention.

1997

Blind access to ATMs

A man who is blind complained that his bank was discriminating against him by installing touch screen Automatic Teller Machines, which he could not use, rather than machine with Braille markings on keys, which he could use. The bank noted that it had selected features in new ATMs to assist vision impaired users, although they were aware these did not assist totally blind users. It was continuing to investigate access options for blind users but did not regard satisfactory solutions as yet available. Only one tenderer had been available for supply of ATMs meeting the bank's specifications including those intended to assist customer with disabilities, and this tenderer's products did not include the features sought by the complainant. The matter was settled without admission of liability with an agreement that when installing further machines the bank would ensure a machine with Braille key markings was available in the vicinity, pending more adequate technical solutions, and would continue to consult with disability groups.

Theatre accessibility improved

A young woman who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis complained that she had been discriminated against when she went to see a performance at a major Sydney live theatre venue, on the basis that wheelchair accessible seating was only available in the highest priced area and that she had been seated distant from her accompanying person and was concerned for her safety. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the theatre:

  • provided five additional wheelchair spaces with removable seating to enable patrons with a disability to sit with friends or other associates
  • reconfigured the area to provide more manoevring room
  • appointed an access consultant to work on further access improvements
  • arranged for accessible seating to be available at the full range of ticket prices.

Hotel facilities made accessible

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was unable to enter a hotel through the front entrance, gain access to the gaming room or use the poker machines in that room, and that the hotel lacked accessible toilet facilities. At a conciliation conference the parties came to an interim agreement for consultative processes to determine possible access modifications. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the hotel agreed to install accessible toilet facilities, provide ramped entry to the front door, and advised that it had modified the entrance doors and relocated the gambling facilities to make them accessible.

Shopping centre lifts

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the external lift call button panels on her local shopping centre's central lift were positioned too high to be accessible. This meant she could not use the cafes, shops or entertainment on upper floors. The shopping centre installed accessible panels on all floors.

Entertainment centre seating

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that the choices available to him for seating at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre were very restricted, and that he was unable to sit next to his wife. The conciliation of this matter, in consultation with representative groups,  resulted in the AEC putting out a media release to announce its new arrangements. There will now always be a seat for an associate next to each designated wheelchair position and patrons using wheelchairs will also be able to sit immediately behind seats for other family or friends, depending on booking availability.

Access to ATM after working hours

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he could not use a bank's ATMs in a country town after business hours as they were approached by a ramp through the branch banking area which was closed after business hours. Initial attempts to resolve the matter by provision of the same services through alternative means, such as the ATMs of another bank, were unsuccessful. The respondent bank submitted a development application (DA) to the Shire Council to install an accessible ATM in the front facade of the branch. The same proposal had been rejected in 1987 due to heritage concerns, and concerns about queuing. A meeting was held with the complainant, Council planning officers and bank representatives to discuss the DA, Council's concerns with the DA and other options available to the complainant, bank and Council to resolve the complainant's concerns if the DA were not approved by Council. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the DA was approved and the bank advised that the additional ATM would be installed within 2 months.

Access to a motel

The complainant alleged that when he visited a motel it did not have suitable access and accommodation facilities for people who use wheelchairs despite being advertised in the NRMA Accommodation Directory as providing these services. At a conciliation conference the respondent confirmed that alterations would be made to the motel rooms, following discussions with an architect and trades people. These would include the provision of shower chairs, the installation of body sprays in all shower recesses and new and accessible power points.

The respondent further ensured that all motel and conference room staff would be properly instructed, through the engagement of a local disability representative body, in assisting persons in wheelchairs and in the use of wheelchairs with foot extensions and that the motel would take steps to ensure that clients using wheelchairs are provided with assistance and are made aware of the assistance available from staff as required.

1996

Access to credit facilities for man unable to sign name

A man who has cerebral palsy complained that his bank had discriminated against him by refusing him a Bankcard credit card because he was unable to sign his name and did not have a carer permanently with him able and authorised to sign on his behalf. The bank advised that they were unable to provide the credit card as requested since the terms governing Bankcard cards were not under their exclusive control. In the conciliation process, the complainant identified the services he was seeking to use the credit card for, and alternative solutions for those services were identified and agreed to. The complaint was settled without admission of liability with the implementation of those arrangements including a phone banking account and an overdraft facility operated by pin number.

HIV status and loan application

A complaint about a requirement to declare HIV status on a loan application and consequent refusal to provide the loan was settled without admission of liability on terms of $5000 compensation, an apology and agreement to amend relevant policies and forms.

Inaccessible artistic venue

Several people who have mobility disabilities complained that Adelaide University's Elder Hall, a major artistic venue also used for events during the Adelaide Festival, was inaccessible to them. The University advised that it had allocated funds to modify access to the Hall and had consulted with the complainants and their advocates on the proposed plans. They further guaranteed that the Hall would not be used for 1998 Festival events if it were not yet accessible.

Less favourable treatment in a hotel

Two complaints on behalf of a person who used a wheelchair and their companions (or "associates") were lodged against a hotel, alleging that staff demanded they move from where they were sitting and provided them with less favourable treatment because of the disability of one of the group. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the respondent agreed to pay a sum of money, to write a letter of apology to each complainant and to submit an article on disability discrimination to the relevant industry journal.

Hand controls for hire car

A man complained that he was unable to hire a car fitted with hand controls, which he required because of his disability, when he visited a major rural centre. The car hire company agreed to provide a car with hand controls on reasonable notice.

Access to dentist's rooms

A woman complained that the premises where her dentist is located were difficult to enter because there are several granite steps leading up to the foyer of the building and no handrail. Her balance is affected by multiple sclerosis and she has difficulties walking up steps.

The premises are leased by Company A from Company B. When the complainant spoke to Company A she was offered assistance if she phoned ahead that she was coming. She was unhappy with this solution and made a complaint to the Commission. The Commission contacted Company B, which owns the building. It responded with a comprehensive proposal to enhance access to the foyer. In addition to handrails at either side of the steps as requested by the complainant it will install a central handrail, roughen the surface of the steps to prevent slipping, and place white strips at the meeting edges of the automatic glass doors to provide a visual indicator of their position. It agreed to complete this work within four weeks.

Conference registration fee for carer refunded

A woman with a disability complained that she had been discriminated against by the organisers of a conference in that she had been required to pay an additional registration fee for her attendant carer who was not participating in the conference. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the respondent apologised, refunded the additional fees, and advised that it had adopted a policy that registration fees would not be charged for carers or support persons accompanying a conference participant with a disability.

Bank fees lifted for people unable to use ATMs

A representative complaint on behalf of people with vision impairments who were unable to use automatic teller machines and reliant on over the counter banking transactions alleged that they were being discriminated against by a bank introducing fees for these transactions. Similar complaints were made by a number of people with other disabilities limiting their access to automatic teller machines. The complaints were settled without admission of liability when the bank advised it had decided to introduce fee exemptions for a range of customers reliant on over the counter services.

Guide dog on tour

A man who is blind complained he had been discriminated against when a tour operator refused to allow him to be accompanied by his guide dog on a mini bus tour. The operator had been concerned about lack of space in the vehicle, and limited use of the dog in an unfamiliar environment. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the operator apologised, agreed to a change of policy to permit guide dogs in future and paid some hundreds of dollars compensation.

Physical access to hotel facilities

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that she had been discriminated against when staff in the restaurant in a major Sydney hotel advised her that there were no accessible toilets and she would have to go next door.  After the complaint was lodged it became apparent that there had in fact been accessible toilets available but only on the carpark level. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the hotel agreed to apologise, pay $500 compensation, place notices and ensure staff knowledge of location of facilities, and ensure that more appropriate and adequate facilities were included in future renovations of hotels operated by them.

1995

Viewing of body of HIV positive man

An associate of a man who died of an AIDS related illness and had hepatitis C complained that she had been discriminated against in not being permitted to dress his body or have the body viewed at the funeral.  She complained against the funeral company and against the union since the company's employees were acting in accordance with union policy in refusing the services requested.  The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the union advised that it had changed its policy such that members would handle, dress and allow viewing of HIV or hepatitis C positive people, and that further discussions would be held with health authorities regarding other (invasive and thus more hazardous) procedures (1995).

Physical access to ATMs

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was unable to use automatic teller machines at his local bank branches because of the positioning of the keyboard. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the bank installed an accessible ATM at one of the branches and advised that this was part of a wider program of replacing 700 ATMs with new machines designed under Americans with Disabilities Act requirements to be accessible to people with physical or vision impairments.

Swimming pool access

A woman who uses a wheelchair because of Multiple Sclerosis complained that her local swimming pool was not accessible to her. She could not get into the water other than by being tipped out of her wheelchair and could only get out by being dragged up steps. The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the local council agreed to implement interim access measures including training pool attendants in safely assisting people with disabilities into and out of the pool, and to undertake modifications including installation of a hoist and upgrading of toilet and change rooms as soon as budget provision could be made for this.

Shop apologises to man asked to leave because of burn scars

A man with burn scars complained that he had been told by staff in a shop that he was "scaring other customers away". The matter was settled without admission of liability with an apology from the shop's management.

Physical access to payphones

A man who has a disability requiring him to use a wheelchair complained that he was being discriminated against in provision of services and facilities in that new public payphones were too high for him to use.  The complaint was settled without admission of liability on the basis that Telecom Australia advised that booths would be modified with a bracket to allow installation of lowered payphones, and that an Action Plan was being developed which would address accessibility of payphones further.