6 March 2007

It's a Guide Dog Mate

Taxi drivers around Australia are dropping the ball when it comes to transporting blind passengers, Commissioner responsible for Disability Discrimination Graeme Innes will tell the Australian Taxi Industry Association Conference in Adelaide today.

"A small but increasing number of taxi drivers around Australia are refusing to carry passengers using guide dogs," Commissioner Innes said.

Commissioner Innes, who uses a guide dog himself, said that such conduct is against the law. It also restricts people's ability to use the public transport system and to play a role in the community.

"As some of you would know, I was refused carriage by two taxis in Perth on two consecutive days early last year," he will tell the industry conference.

"More recently, cabs have driven off from ranks where my dog and I have been standing in Sydney and Melbourne," Commissioner Innes said.

"My own experience, plus discussions with others, suggests that this problem is becoming more prevalent.

"I call on drivers to stop this practice, but I also call on owners, and the industry as a whole, to increase efforts on the issue through better training and communication.

"Discrimination complaints can be lodged against taxi owners and co-ops as well as the drivers themselves," Commissioner Innes said.

"I also urge users of guide dogs and assistance animals to either lodge discrimination complaints or complain to state government taxi authorities.

"Drivers must know that to refuse passengers with assistance animals is against the law," he said.

Media contact: Louise McDermott (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597

Last updated 30 January, 2008