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DDA Complaint against Murrays Coaches

The Complaint under the DDA

Wheelchair user Julia Haraksin filed a Disability Discrimination complaint against Murrays Coaches before the Federal Court in Sydney. Ms Haraksin has brittle bone disease. She tried unsuccessfully to book a seat on one of its coaches from Sydney to Canberra to attend a work conference. The bus company told her none of its coaches could take her because she uses a Wheelchair.

Ms Haraksin claims Murrays contravened the Federal Disability Discrimination Act and the Discrimination Standards for Accessible Public Transport

What Ms Haraksin is seeking from the Case

The complainant Ms Haraksin is not seeking financial compensation from Murrays. Instead, Ms Haraksin is seeking a Federal Court Order directing Bus Company to Comply with National Disability Standards for Public Transport that require Transport providers to ensure at least 25 per cent of their vehicles are Wheelchair-Accessible

What Ms Haraksin said

"(I want) people to realise that legislation is important and that it needs to be respected ... and that people with disabilities have equal access to things, people in the general community do not realise that everyday, people with Disabilities still face quite a bit of Discrimination"

PIAC Lawyer Chris Ronalds SC, representing Ms Haraksin said

"She asked for an Accessible Bus and was told there were none. One has to make a booking to get on this service. The booking was denied because the service that is needed can't be provided"

Counsel for Murray's Coaches, Arthur Moses SC said 

Arthur Moses SC, argued the cost of retrofitting would be prohibitive and a subsequent increase in passenger costs would not be in the public interest

Murrays is defending the action, saying the Discrimination was not unlawful. 

It is relying on a defence of "unjustifiable hardship", saying it would cost a total of $23 million to convert all of its 154 coaches. 

Murrays said in a statement six of its 15 vehicles used for the Canberra to Sydney route have now been made Wheelchair Accessible.

The hearing before Justice Nicholas is continuing

By John Bedwell  Sydney Consultant for Obvius Access Consultants 1st January 2013

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