As you are probably aware, on Thursday 29 March, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) formally dismissed the Queensland Government’s and Queensland Rail’s joint application for a temporary exemption from certain provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 so that they could operate their so-called New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) trains in South East Queensland.
They wanted an exemption because the NGR trains are not yet compliant with the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (DSAPT), and the AHRC decision confirms the importance of disability access in all new public transport systems regardless of pressing circumstances such as the Commonwealth Games.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that this decision does not and will not stop Queensland Rail from operating these trains unlawfully, and the Minister for Transport, Mark Bailey, has stated that they will do so. (Click here to read the Government’s official press release.)
So, what can be done to ensure the Queensland Government and Queensland Rail understand how inappropriate it is to flaunt the law?
1. Make a complaint about them to the AHRC – If you catch one of the NGR trains and you have difficulties:
- – moving between the accessible seating spaces;
- – using the toilet (if fitted); and/or
- – getting on or off the train at the relevant stations…
… then you can make an official complaint about this to the AHRC. (For more information about how to make a complaint, click here.)
If the AHRC accepts the complaint (and this is likely given that the NGR trains’ noncompliance with the DSAPT is acknowledged) then representatives of the Queensland Government and Queensland Rail must participate in a conciliation conference with you to see if a resolution can be reached.
While it is unlikely that the Minister himself will respond to your letter (unless you are a constituent of his in the electorate of Miller), he will know that you and other passengers with disability are angry about this matter.
Politicians of any party usually respond personally to letters from voters in their electorates and it’s important for all of them know how important disability access is to you.
4. Share your efforts on Social Media with #NGRNoGood
This message, emailed to Queensland PDA members and posted on PDA’s blog, has a limited direct audience. However, when you share it and the things you have done on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it reaches a much larger audience of people who also think disability access is important.