Adjournment Matter – Accessible rail services

My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Public Transport. The action I seek is better accessibility for people with a disability travelling on the Warrnambool train line. It seems absurd that in 2018 I have to be raising a matter like this in Parliament, but here we are. During a recent meeting with the Leadership Network for Women with Disabilities a member of the network relayed the following story to the group. As a regular traveller on the Warrnambool to Melbourne train she was dismayed to note that the disabled toilet was out of order over successive weeks. An out-of-order note had been displayed, I repeat for successive weeks. It was during her most recent trip that she noted a father carrying his disabled son through the train trying to find a toilet that was in working order. The toilet in the next carriage was a non-disability access toilet but it too was out of order. A functioning toilet was eventually found three carriages over, but it was a non-disability access toilet.

My constituent stated in her account that the V/Line staff were very embarrassed but did all they could to be helpful in this terrible situation. They advised my constituent that should she find herself in this position of needing a disability access toilet and it was still out of order, they could assist her to disembark at the next station so she could use the station facilities and a taxi could be called to help her complete the rest of her journey. It was a helpful gesture, but as the members of the leadership network meeting asked, wouldn’t it be cheaper just to fix the toilet?

It is disgraceful to think that in 2018 we have this type of situation happening on our public transport system, where people with disabilities do not even have the dignity of being able to access a toilet. By your own admission, Minister, promised improvements on the Warrnambool to Melbourne line are still years away. In the meantime, this is what you are asking our constituents to manage with, day after day, week after week.

There are also long-running issues of disability access to the train itself, with reports featuring in the local newspaper of people who use a wheelchair being forced into taxis for their trip because when they arrived at the station they found the carriages were not accessible. This is despite the passengers being told when they made their booking that accessible carriages would be available.

I find it abhorrent that today we still have public services that are not accessible to everyone, and I urge you, Minister, to act on this as a matter of priority. Forget the spin and the partisan games. Get on and do what is right and give people with a disability the dignity of a working toilet and also an easy journey on public transport.