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conciliated cases: transport

Disability Disability Rights
Friday 14 December, 2012

Conciliated outcomes: Transport

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

2009

Public transport access for seizure alert dog

A woman who has epilepsy and uses a seizure alert dog complained that she had not been permitted to have her assistance dog travel with her on public transport.

The complaint was resolved when the transport provider agreed to fund a public access test for the complainant's assistance dog and, when this was successfully completed, to allow the complainant to travel with the assistance animal.

Taxi bookings improved for guide dog users

A man who is blind and has a guide dog complained that when he when he called to book a taxi and informed the operator that he was travelling with a guide dog, he was told not to count on a taxi turning up as drivers could choose not to carry a guide dog. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability when the respondent agreed to d evelop a disability access program; engage their local Guide Dog association to provide awareness training; raise guide dog awareness issues with other taxi services at a forthcoming network meeting; and pay the complainant $200 compensation.

2008

Guide dog access

A man who uses a guide dog complained that a taxi had refused him service. The complaint was resolved when the operator apologised and agreed to make a donation to the local guide dog association and request the taxi provider he worked for to arrange disability awareness training for drivers.

Adjustments to lifting procedure

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that an airline's procedure for use of lifting devices made her feel unsafe and undignified. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed to work with the complainant to pursue modifications of the wooden seat from her own wheelchair to fit more readily with lifting by its lifting devices.

Captioned films on flights

A man who is deaf complained that there was a lack of captions to enable him to enjoy films on an international flight. The complaint was resolved with an agreement by the airline to provide at least 3 captioned films on flights equipped with video on demand systems.

Two dogs are better than one

A woman who uses a guide dog complained that she had been asked to take a later flight because there was already one assistance animal booked to travel on her flight. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed that two assistance animals could be safely accommodated on each of its flights.

Airline procedures improved

A young woman who has epilepsy complained that because she had not been advised in a timely way of an international airline's requirements for medical clearance, she was refused passage until the day after the flight she and her fiancé had booked. The complaint was resolved when the airline apologised, provided complementary travel for the couple and agreed to upgrade its passenger information systems to avoid similar events in future.

Intellectual disability not a barrier to plane travel

A woman complained that her sister, who has an intellectual disability, had been told when she arrived to book in for a plane trip that “minors” could not travel unaccompanied – despite the facts that (1) this is not the case; (2) the sister is over 50 years old and (3) has a high level of capacity including holding licences to operate various machinery. The complaint was settled when the airline apologised, advised that it had reviewed is staff information and training, paid compensation for the embarrassing incident that had occurred, and agreed that the sister was entitled to travel unaccompanied.

In flight captioning

A man who is deaf complained that captioning of entertainment and announcements was not available on an international flight. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it would progressively upgrade its fleet to include captioning facilities and would reinforce its staff training on service for customers with disabilities.

Targeting assistance

A man who is blind complained that in order to receive assistance in finding his way to his flight, an airline had required him to be pushed in an airline wheelchair. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed to revise its assistance procedures and information for staff and passengers.

Independent travel

A woman who has a physical disability complained that an airline would not permit her to travel unless she was accompanied by an assistant because she cold not reach under her seat to put on a life jacket if required. The complaint was resolved when the airline agreed to have staff place the jacket within reach in the seat pocket on request.

2007

Assistance animal cleared to travel

A woman who uses a trained assistance dog to assist her deal with her psychosocial disability complained that she had been told she could not travel on a public transport service with her dog although she had produced evidence that her dog was an assistance animal and was trained to behave appropriately on public transport. The complaint was resolved when the transport provider agreed to issue a pass confirming that the woman was entitled to travel on its services with her animal (so long as the animal was appropriately restrained in accordance with the requirements of transport legislation in the State concerned).

Travel with wheelchair

A man who uses a manual wheelchair complained that an airline had advised that he would not be able to travel on certain flights. The complaint was settled when the airline apologised and advised that its information systems had been improved to make clearer to staff what limitations there were on its ability to carry some powered chairs and not on folding manual chairs.

Adjustments to queueing and booking in

A woman who experiences chronic fatigue and is unable to stand for long periods complaints that an airline had discriminated against her by failing to provide adjustments to enable her to avoid queuing for long periods at check in. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it had adopted a policy under which the complainant and other people with similar disabilities could approach any empty check in counter including those for first or business class and be served on production of a medical certificate. The airline also noted that provision for self check in at airports or via the internet could be helpful in reducing the need to queue.

Booking in an assistance animal on line

A man who is deaf complained that he was unable to use an airline's online booking facility effectively as it gave no option for identifying travel with an assistance animal and thus he was unable to benefit from the convenience of online booking or from discounts available online. The complaint was resolved when the airline revised its website to include provision for booking travel with an assistance animal.

Air travel for small sized child

A mother complained that her son, whose disability includes being small sized and unable to sit independently in an airline seat, was not permitted to sit on her lap in the same way as younger children the same size. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it had requested the required civil aviation safety exemption, which has since been granted, to permit the boy to travel in the manner requested.

Accommodating allergies on board

A woman who has food allergies complained that an airline had not adequately accommodated her allergies when flying. The complaint was resolved with an agreement to allow her an additional baggage allowance on longer flights to bring food on board and to have staff facilitate her access to this food during flights.

Security and search procedures

A man who uses a pacemaker complained that he had been required to strip for searching at an airport when his pacemaker set off the security screening equipment. The complaint was resolved when the screening authority agreed to improve staff training and information on screening procedures for passengers.

Maintenance of access ramps

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that ramps on the accessible buses in his aea were frequently out of order for long periods. The complaint was resolved when the bus operator advised that failed ramps had been repaired and that arrangements made to secure higher priority for ramp maintenance and repairs in workshops.

Transferring to airline chairs

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that she had been advised by an airline that she could not travel unless she could transfer herself from her own chair to an airline wheelchair and seat. The complain was resolved when the airline apologised and confirmed that its policy was in fact to assist with transfer so long as passengers weighed less than 130 kg.

Taxis and guide dogs, again

A man who is blind complained that a booked taxi had refused to carry him on arriving and finding he was accompanied by a guide dog. The complaint was resolved when the taxi co-operative advised that it had already imposed a fine on the driver and reminded all drivers on its network of their responsibilities to carry guide dog users.

2006

Air travel with electric wheelchair

A woman who uses an electric wheelchair complained that an airline would not transport her chair. The airline explained that the chair would not fit to be safely stowed upright and could not be transported on its side without damage. The matter was resolved after the wheelchair supplier arranged to have the chair modified to allow its back to fold down thus rendering it fit for the customer's purpose of travelling by air, and the airline made special arrangements so that the chair could be transported to the supplier for modification.

Waiver for damage to wheelchair waived

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he had been told by an airline that he could not travel unless he signed a waiver excusing the airline from liability in the event of damage to his wheelchair in transit. The matter was settled without admission of liability when the airline agreed to remind its staff of its policy that people using mobility aids could not be refused carriage if they did not sign the waiver, and to consider updating its customer information to draw attention to the limited liability of airlines which exists under civil aviation law in any case.

Carriage of larger wheelchair on planes

A man who uses an electric wheelchair complained that an airline had adopted a policy on carriage of wheelchairs on smaller aircraft which would prevent him travelling by air. The airline had referred to concerns for safety of staff in lifting chairs weighing over 20 kg and restrictions in ability to stow chairs beyond certain dimensions. The matter was resolved when the airline adopted an operating procedure for the specific chair concerned to permit effective and safe loading. Detailed assessment indicated that although total chair weight of 49kg exceeded safety limitations even for lifting by two persons, the chair could be disassembled to reduce its weight under these limitations. It was agreed that where possible the passenger and carers or assistants would assist by instructing staff on correct methods for disassembling the chair; and a set of procedures to guide staff in assembly and disassembly was agreed on.

Two dogs flying

A couple who are both blind and each use a guide dog complained that they had been told on arriving at the airport for a flight that they could not both travel on the same aircraft with their dogs due to space limitations. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability with an agreement to pay $500 compensation plus expenses and to review its service dog policy in consultation with guide dog agencies within 6 months to ensure that dogs could be adequately accommodated on A320 aircraft.

Accessibility of rail replacement services

A man whose wife uses a walking frame complained that when regular maintenance required replacement of rail with bus or coach services, the rail operator concerned used inaccessible vehicles and only provided an accessible taxi alternative for passengers who use wheelchairs. The complaint was resolved when the operator advised that it would seek to use accessible vehicles (low floor buses or coaches fitted with hoists) wherever possible and that whenever an inaccessible vehicle had to be used accessible taxi alternative transport would be offered to any passenger unable to access the bus or coach.

Free travel for companion 

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that an airline had discriminated against her by requiring that she be accompanied by an assistant when travelling. The complaint was resolved without admission of liability when the airline agreed to provide a free flight for the woman and a companion.

Cruise fare refunded

A man whose wife uses a wheelchair complained that on a holiday cruise they had booked, although initial boarding and cabin arrangement were accessible access had been impossible or unsafe at ports along the way. The complaint was settled with payment of over $4000 to refund fares and other expenses, an apology and an agreement for the company's disability access officer to meet with the complainants to discuss services and procedures for passengers with disabilities.

Hearing dogs in taxis

A man who has a hearing impairment and uses a hearing dog complained that when a taxi from the respondent company arrived to collect him and a friend, the driver refused to allow the dog to sit near him in the passenger compartment and required it to be placed in the back of the station wagon. The complaint was settled with an agreement to pay Lions Hearing Dogs $500.

2005

Travel without assistant

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that an airline had advised him he could not travel without an assistant to help him with boarding and disembarking, on flights where cabin staff were available. The complaint was settled when the airline apologised, offered a full refund of his fares and undertook to review staff training.

Assistance in completing immigration forms for airline passenger

A man who is blind complained that when travelling to and from Australia , cabin staff of the airline he was travelling with refused to assist with filling in immigration cards, resulting in delay for himself and other passengers on arrival. The complaint was settled with an agreement to review the airline's policy on assistance to passengers and to provide a credit for use on a future flight.

Public transport: assistance to passengers

A couple who both have disabilities complained that a rail operator's staff had refused to assist them with luggage at one end of their journey. The matter was resolved when the operator agreed to compensate them for inconvenience and to remind staff of the operator's policies on assistance to passengers.

Airline booking systems improved for assistance dog users

A man who has a hearing impairment and uses a hearing dog complained that if he wished to travel with his hearing dog he was required to book by telephone rather than using the more convenient online booking system. The complaint was resolved when the airline advised that it was revising its electronic booking and information systems to permit inclusion of the information that a passenger would be travelling with an assistance dog.

Additional fare for accessible travel removed

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that the fare required for an accessible cabin on a rail operator's services was twice that for travel in a standard cabin. While any passenger travelling alone in the twin, accessible, cabins was required to pay the extra charge, a passenger requiring an accessible cabin had no choice whether to use this cabin or a standard cabin. The complaint was resolved when the operator advised that it had modified its policy to waive the additional fee for passengers unable to use a standard cabin.

Independent air travel

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that he had been refused travel by an airline unless accompanied by a carer although he had previously flown alone with no problems. The complaint was settled when the airline agreed to provide a letter confirming the complainant could travel independently.

Information access for deaf passengers

A man who is Deaf and does not lipread complained that he had been discriminated against on a number of journeys with an airline through some communication only being provided orally rather than in writing. The matter was settled with an agreement that while written communication would not always be practicable the airline would pursue upgrading its booking systems to enable a need for written communication to be identified in advance to staff.

2004

Customer service for public transport users with disabilities

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that she had been insulted by a public transport authority's employee when she requested that an access ramp be positioned the right way around. The matter was settled when the respondent apologised, paid $1000 compensation and agreed to upgrade the disability module of its customer service training.

Two dogs flying

A man who is blind and uses a guide dog complained that when he and a friend who also uses a guide dog tried to book travel with an airline they were advised that only one guide dog was permitted on each flight. The complaint was settled when the airline dropped its one dog policy.

Airline access for mobility aid user

A woman who uses a motorised scooter complained that an airline had advised that it would not carry wheelchairs weighing more than 32 kilograms except on a "case by case basis" , and that passengers with special needs had to book though a phone booking service which meant paying $10 more than passengers who could book online. The matter was resolved when the airline advised that it had improved its internet booking service so that specific needs could also be identified in booking online, and explained that case by case carriage of larger mobility aids referred only to the need for mobility aids such as scooters to be able to fit through the cargo doors and in the hold.

Travel with guide dogs

Two people who are blind and use guide dogs complained that when they
sought to book air travel together they were advised that only one guide
dog could travel in the cabin of each flight, so that the other dog would
need to travel as cargo with consequent additional fees and time requirements.
The matter was settled when the airline agreed to review its policy in
consultation with Guide Dogs Australia.

Airline access

A woman with a physical disability complained that she was discriminated
against by an airline only providing lap seat belts rather than also providing
upper torso restraint which she needed to be able to fly safely. The complaint
was settled when the airline agreed to use its best endeavours to install
restraints on its planes by May 2005 and train its staff in their correct
use.

Non-discriminatory bus travel

A man complained that he had been discriminated against and harassed
by a bus driver because of his obesity. The matter was settled with an
apology.

Coach access

A woman who has a physical disability as a result of a stroke complained
that when she booked an interstate bus trip and requested the seat behind
the driver (which provided more room for manoeuvring) and some assistance
in boarding she was told that specific seats could not be booked and that
if she required assistance she would need to bring her own carer. The
complaint was settled when the coach company agreed to fit handrails to
assist in boarding; train its drivers in assisting passengers; and improve
customer service information.

Airline access with oxygen

A woman with post polio disabilities requiring her to use oxygen complained
that she had been discriminated against by an international airline requiring
two additional seats to be booked for the oxygen supply, and applying
long and complex approval procedures for taking medical equipment on board.
The complaint was settled when the airline agreed to pay $5000 compensation
and to improve information procedures regarding passengers with specific
needs.

Safety on buses

A man who has a disability and uses a scooter complained that he had
been refused access to bus services with his scooter. The transport authority
referred to indications that 3 wheeled scooters are not stable enough
to be safe to ride on in road vehicles. The complaint was settled when
the authority advised that it was fitting stabilising straps which would
provide for safe carriage of people sitting on mobility aids.

Accommodation in airline seating

A woman with a disability affecting leg movement complained that an airline
would not accommodate her condition by allocating her a seat with additional
leg room. The complaint was settled when the airline agreed to alter its
seat allocations to accommodate her needs.

Bus access

A mother complained that her daughter, who has an intellectual disability
as well as a physical disability which is not visibly obvious, was discriminated
against in using the bus to get to work, in that she had been told on
several occasions not to sit in the priority seat at the front of the
bus. The complaint was settled when the operator agreed to improve training
of its staff and to issue an identification card the young woman could
use to show she had a mobility restriction.

2003

Assistance dog on trains

A woman who uses an assistance dog complained that she was not permitted
to travel with the dog on long distance trains. The complaint was settled
when the rail operator advised that it had introduced a procedure for
case by case recognition of assistance animals by application to its customer
service manager in advance of travel.

Bus access in accordance with Disability Standards

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that buses operated by his local
bus company were not accessible. The complaint was withdrawn after the
bus company advised that all buses acquired since the commencement of
the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport complied with
those standards; that new buses were being introduced at a rate of ten
per year; and that although earlier buses had aisles too narrow to comply
fully, existing low floor buses would also be fitted with ramps to provide
as much access as possible.

Transport access in accordance with Standards

A man who has paraplegia and uses a wheelchair complained that his local
bus service was not accessible. In conciliation the bus provider agreed
that signage to lifts at a major interchange needed to be improved. Buses
with aisles too narrow for a wheelchair had been acquired prior to commencement
of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and all buses
being acquired since were fully compliant. The provider agreed to fit
ramps to existing low floor buses which lacked these.

Information about accessible transport

A man who uses a wheelchair and a friend complained that as a result
of a lack of information, uninformed staff and non-user friendly service
they became stranded in an unfamiliar suburb. They also claimed that the
development of accessible stops and the introduction of low floor trams
have not had the desired effect of ensuring accessibility for people who
use wheelchairs.

The respondent noted that its website includes a map showing what tram
stops on the route are wheelchair accessible, that it has submitted an
action plan to HREOC and that all staff receives Disability Awareness
training. The respondent did not accept that staff did not offer the complainants
assistance, since the complainants admitted that the driver offered to
assist the complainant using a wheelchair onto the tram but this had been
refused. It advised that for practical and operational reasons it is not
possible to provide certainty when a low floor vehicle would be available
even though every effort is made to do so when requested.

The complaint was resolved through conciliation with an agreement being
signed that without any admission of liability the respondent will ensure
all trams on the route will be low floor by the end of July 2003, ensure
that all tram drivers are trained in the deployment of the bridging piece
and the importance of this deployment for people with disabilities; that
it will review and develop appropriate hand railing to be provided for
users in wheelchairs in all trams on the route to ensure the safety of
these users while travelling; that it will review the positioning of the
accessible stop buttons on trams and would pay $500.00 for distress caused.

2002

Ticketing access

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that a rail operator's ticket
facilities at several major stations were inaccessible to him. The complaint
was settled when the operator agreed to remove barriers at ticket booths
and improve signage of access paths.

2001

Airline lounge access

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that airline club lounge facilities
were inaccessible. The complaint was settled with an agreement to include
a section of the reception desk at a lower height and to install tables
with a variety of heights within the club.

Boarding ramps for suburban trains

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that ramps for boarding and leaving
suburban trains were not reliably provided so that on occasion he had
been unable to board or been stranded on a train far past his destination.
The complaint was settled when the rail operator adopted new operating
procedures developed in consultation with disability organisations

Oxygen on plane

A man with emphysema which requires him to use a supplementary oxygen
supply on airplanes complained that he had not been allowed to use his
privately-obtained oxygen supply which had cost him $27, but instead was
required to buy and use oxygen supplied through the airline at a cost
of $400. A conciliation agreement was reached for the airline to reimburse
$400, issue a written apology for the incident and change its policy permitting
passengers to use their own oxygen supply on its flights.

Airline terminal access

A man with a mobility impairment complained that a budget airline's terminal
building was inaccessible because the entrance was by steps with no ramp
access is provided. The complaint was settled when the airline agreed
to install ramps and review other access features.

Transit procedures reviewed

A man who uses a wheelchair complained that when changing planes at a
foreign airport during an international flight, the airline had no proper
procedure for the transit of a person in a wheelchair from one section
of the airport to another. He claimed that the other passengers left the
aircraft immediately after arrival, but he and his wife were obliged to
wait while the aircraft was cleaned; he was then placed in a child sized
wheelchair without footrests; loaded into what appeared to be a catering
truck and driven across the tarmac in the dark; and given no opportunity
to use a toilet before boarding the second aircraft.

The airline acknowledged that its computer records had failed to identify
the passenger's requirements despite the travel agency providing the information
at the time of booking. The matter was settled with an apology and an
agreement to review procedures.

On plane wheelchair access

A woman who uses a wheelchair complained that although she had requested
and was assured of the availability of an aisle wheelchair on the respondent's
airline for an overseas holiday, this service was not made available on
the outbound or inbound journey. As a result she had to be carried to
the toilet on the plane, was uncomfortable and felt humiliated, and because
she feared drinking anything on the flight to avoid the use of the toilet
she became dehydrated.

At a conciliation conference, it appeared that imprecise use of terminology
by airline staff may have accounted for confusion about an aisle seat
on the plane (in one direction) and an airport wheelchair (in the other
direction) being required rather than an aisle wheelchair on both flights.
The airline apologised, and agreed to refund the cost of the flights.
It also advised that it has now provided aisle wheelchairs on all its
large planes and is in the process of providing them for all its overseas
flights.

2000

Accessibility of existing long distance rail carriages

A man who uses a wheelchair for mobility complained of restricted wheelchair
accessibility on a rail operator's long distance services due to dimensions
of doors, corridors and toilet doors. In conciliation the complainant
accepted undertakings that while it would not be feasible to modify the
carriages concerned to provide access as desired, the operator provided
a narrow wheelchair which did allow access to the train; new carriages
would be accessible; and the operator would consult with the complainant
on any feasible minor modifications.

In another complaint regarding long distance trains, a woman with mobility
disabilities complained that accessible toilets were provided only in
first class. In conciliation the operator agreed that pending provision
of accessible toilets in economy class (which could not be undertaken
at present) economy passengers requiring accessible facilities would be
provided with access to relevant facilities in first class.

Scooter permitted on bus

A public transport operator provided a person who uses a motorised scooter
for mobility with a letter confirming that this mobility aid was permitted
on the operator's buses, since the scooter concerned was able to fit in
the wheelchair space on these buses.

1999

Suburban railway station access

A Municipal Council complained on behalf
of local wheelchair users that a local  railway station was not accessible
because access to the subway entrance to the station and thence to the
platform was by was of stairs.  The complaint was not pursued further
after the rail authority advised that:

  • it
    would like to make all of its stations accessible but the work was extremely
    costly and could not be carried out immediately
  • 31
    out of 301 stations had been upgraded for wheelchair access and 14 more
    were planned for completion by June 2000
  • priority
    was being given to stations on the basis of strategic location, high
    patronage, adjacent major transport interchanges, or location near hospitals,
    educational or entertainment facilities
  • a
    major interchange station on the line concerned was completed and a
    nearby local station was currently undergoing installation of wheelchair
    accessible facilities
  • the
    Minister for Transport had recently announced funding to improve access
    and customer facilities at the station concerned, and a development
    application had been lodged to permit work to commence on lifts for
    wheelchair access, a new covered footbridge to facilitate lift access,
    and upgrading of the existing subway with ramps to street level
  • it
    would be pleased to accept the Council's offer of $120,000 towards supporting
    works for the project.

1998

Wheelchair
access to local buses

A disability activist organisation complained
that its members had been discriminated against by a small local bus company
failing to provide for  wheelchair access to certain of its route
bus services in recent acquisition of new vehicles.  The respondent
company noted that the draft Disability Standards on accessible transport,
if in force, would not require immediate replacement of existing inaccessible
vehicles, and that the only new vehicles acquired had been for dedicated
school bus services rather than for the route bus services complained
of. It argued that under the existing provisions of the DDA unjustifiable
hardship would be imposed by requiring all of its bus fleet to be wheelchair
accessible. It referred to

  • capital
    costs of conversion of existing buses by fitting of lifts
  • costs
    of hiring replacement buses during such a conversion program
  • loss
    of capacity, in particular in school bus service, in converted buses
  • consequent
    revenue loss and capital cost of additional buses to make up lost capacity
  • loss
    of timetable reliability and consequent revenue loss due to delays in
    operating wheelchair lifts.

These
arguments were not pursued to decision by the Commission or the courts. 
The complaint was settled without admission of liability when the respondent
advised that it had ordered an ultra low floor wheelchair accessible route
bus and was also operating an accessible mini bus. Press commentary by
the company referred to the advantages of the new ultra low floor vehicle
for older passengers as well as wheelchair users.

1997

Toilet
access and wheelchair seating on coaches

A
man who uses a wheelchair complained that he was discriminated against
by lack of accessible toilet facilities for passengers on country road
coaches operated by a public transport authority. He also complained that
the accessibility of the service would be improved if passengers could
remain in their own wheelchairs during travel through provision of tracked
seating.

The
respondent advised that although entry to some of its coaches was accessible
by means of hoists, on board accessible toilets would involve unjustifiable
hardship due to low demand relative to costs of installation, substantial
loss of seating space required (estimated at 16 or more seats), and delays
for passengers.  The respondents regarded improved facilities at
comfort stops as a better option for all passengers. They also advised
that safety standards under Australian Design Rules precluded passengers
from remaining in their own wheelchairs in a coach.

The
matter was settled without admission of liability with an agreement to

  • install
    tracked seating in the accessible coaches if, but only if, it were established
    by safety authorities that this could be done in compliance with relevant
    safety standards (it being noted that specifications of testing procedures
    for this purpose by the International Standards Organisaiton were under
    way but would take another 18 months)
  • complete
    a survey of accessibility of roadhouses and refreshment stops and incorporate
    accessible stops into coach routes where possible
  • improve
    advertising of accessibility features of services and customer feedback
    facilities.

Air
travel with own oxygen

A
businessman who has asthma and regularly flies on business between a regional
centre and a capital city was recently advised by his doctor not to fly
without extra oxygen. The airline told him he should provide his own.
On boarding a flight, the pilot told him that, unless he had documented
prior approval through the company's medical unit, his possession and
use of oxygen in flight contravened the Air Navigation Act. The pilot
instructed him to leave the plane, which he did. He drove to his destination,
very upset, and consequently suffered asthma symptoms. As a result of
the Commission's investigation, the airline provided an explanation of
the necessary procedures to allow the complainant to be approved for travelling
with his own oxygen cylinder, clearing the way for his future booking
arrangements and air travel.

Policy
for assistance animals on trains

A woman with epilepsy and vision and
mobility impairment complained that she had been discriminated against
when she was refused permission to board a suburban train with her assistant
dog. The complaint was settled when the rail authority advised that in
addition to its established policy of permitting guide and hearing dogs
on passenger trains, it had implemented a trial program allowing line
managers to authorise customers on a discretionary and case by case basis
to travel with other trained assistant animals.  This discretion
was to be exercised having regard to

  • the
    reason for requesting authorisation,
  • evidence
    of the customer's disability or medical condition,
  • the
    type of animal and its temperament and cleanliness,
  • evidence
    of the animal having undergone obedience and assistance training similar
    to that of a guide dog
  • the
    degree of assistance provided by the trained animal.

Railway
station toilet facilities

A
woman lodged a complaint against a state railway authority regarding lack
of accessible toilets on stations throughout that state. The rail authority
advised that there was a plan in place to make stations accessible by
2020 in accord with proposed transport standards and that the station
nearest the complainant's home, a main transit station, was scheduled
for conversion by July 1997, although this plan did not include an accessible
toilet. The complainant proposed the installation of portable toilets
as an interim step but was advised this was impracticable due to the need
to remove waste, security issues and so on. In December 1996 the rail
authority agreed to build a permanent accessible toilet within the station.
This was completed in early March 1997 and the complainant confirmed that
she was satisfied with the outcome.

1996

Taxi
access for guide dog users

Two
vision impaired people complained that taxis at a major airport were refusing
to take passengers accompanied by guide dogs. The complaint was settled
when the state regulatory authority concerned advised that in immediate
response to the complaint they were drafting a general directive to all
taxi operators informing them of the relevant provisions of the local
anti discrimination law and passenger transport legislation as well as
the Disability Discrimination Act, and noting the consequences of breaching
those Acts.

Sleeping
carriage access

A
man who uses a wheelchair complained in 1993 that he had been discriminated
against in that new sleeper carriages were not independently accessible
for people using wheelchairs but required transfer into a narrow aisle
chair and staff assistance to enter, move around within and leave. The
matter was settled on the basis that although the cars would not be modified
for independent access because of the cost of achieving this within the
existing carriage body shell, the rail authority would be guided by the
provisions of the draft Disability Standards on accessible transport in
future passenger car acquisition.

1995

Access
to interurban trains and main terminal station

A woman who uses a wheelchair, and her
husband, complained in 1994 regarding inadequate accessibility of interurban
trains (which meant that she had to sit in the carriage vestibule entrance
area for a two hour journey without any handrail or other securing point
to hold on to), lack of readily apparent or independently usable access
between interurban and suburban platforms at the destination, and lack
of prompt staff assistance to deal with access barriers when boarding
or leavng trains and transferring between platforms. The complaint was
settled without admission of liability when the rail authority advised
that it

  • had
    implemented a revised internal complaints system so that people should
    not need to come to external agencies such as HREOC to have complaints
    addressed
  • was
    implementing customer service training including disability awareness
    for all service staff
  • was
    implementing an easy access program for selected stations, including
    provision of accessibility at the main terminal station in 1996 and
    a major city underground station  in 1997.

Access to public transport buses

People with Disabilities (NSW) complained that the State Tansit Authority (STA) had ordered 150 buses without stipulating that they should be accessible to a person using a wheelchair. The complaint was settled without admission of liability on the basis that

  • the STA's order for the supply of the 150 buses, and for 125 others, would proceed
  • some of the 50 buses ordered subsequently would undergo trials for accessibility as soon as possible, including assessing the need for safety restraints
  • PWD (NSW) and the STA would jointly decide on the boarding systems to be trialed, the number of buses to be trialed and how the trials will be assessed
  • the trial buses would provide two wheelchair spaces and
  • any ramp installed on the trial buses would be positioned at the centre door rather than at the front door.

1994

Accessibility
of Perth public transport

A number
of people with disabilities complained that tender documents for operators
providing bus services in Perth on behalf of government public transport
authorities failed to specify accessibility as a requirement. The respondents
undertook not to proceed with the tender until the complaints were resolved.
Agreement was reached to establish an Action Plan under the DDA by November
1995; for any bus contracts prior to this to specify accessibility as
a requirement; and for a temporary exemption to be applied for pending
commencement of the action plan. This Action Plan was finalised as required
in November 1995 after extensive consultation and was formally launched
in March 1996.

Access
in country trains

Two people who use wheelchairs complained
that they had been required to travel in the guard's van on a regional
train service. The complaint was not pursued after the rail authority
advised that

  • all
    front line staff received disability awareness training
  • customers
    who advised they were not able to transfer from a wheelchair to a seat
    would be assisted to board the buffet car where space was available
    for most sizes of wheelchair
  • in
    some older carriage sets where larger wheelchairs could not be accommodated
    in the buffet car, customers would be assisted to enter the guard's
    van and would be supervised from the van by the conductor at intervals
    throughout the journey
  • the
    option of travelling in the van was commonly offered to and used by
    other passengers requiring privacy, namely nursing mothers
  • nonetheless
    the existing situation was recognised as a problem and the carriages
    which could not accommodate all sizes of wheelchair in the main passenger
    area were being phased out
  • new
    self propelled diesel carriages fully accommodated passengers using
    wheelchairs in terms of positioning in the carriage and access to facilities
    .