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DDA Complaint against Railcorp
A Court in
Sydney has ruled that RailCorp breached theDisability Discrimination Act (DDA) by failing to provideAudibleAnnouncements on their NSW Rail
network and thereforeDiscriminate against Visually Impaired
AUSTRALIA'S disability commissioner Graeme
Innes, who is blind, has won a discrimination case against NSW rail
authorities for not providing audible train announcements.
RailCorp has been ordered to pay $10,000 to Mr Innes, who
complained it was discriminating against visually impaired people.
The Disability Discrimination Commissioner had lodged more
than60complaints in the Federal Magistrates Court
about inaudible trainannouncements on the NSW train
Magistrate Kenneth Raphael ruled RailCorp had breached
Act because in 18 to 20 per cent of the occasions for
which complaints were made by Mr Innes, the network had failed to provide audible
Magistrate Raphael said despite RailCorp's attempts to ensure
clear announcements were made, the steps taken were reactive and haphazard rather than proactive and
“It would appear startlingly obvious to the lay observer
thatpassengers travelling upon trains need to know where to get
told the courtin
“It would be equallyobvious that this information should be
provided in a way that was effective for all passengers.
“If it was not, the lay observer would conclude that those
passengers for whom the information was not provided effectively were discriminated against.”
RailCorp had argued that a failure rate of around 15
per cent for announcements did not equate to discrimination.
Outside court, Mr Innes said he felt vindicated and looked
forward to working with RailCorp to ensure the system worked.
“I wanted to ensure that people who are blind or have low
vision are treated the same as everyone else,” he said.
“I offered many times to work with RailCorp to do this but they
didn't want to do it, they wanted to have a legal argument.
“I'm sorry we had to do it. Now that we have, I hope that
they'll work with me to address the issue.”
The court ruled that Railcorp must award Mr Innes
$10,000 compensation along with interest and legal costs.
Mr Innes has said he will award the damages to
Premier Barry O'Farrell welcomed Mr Innes' success, saying it
was a wake-up call for all government agencies to focus on their customers.
Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian was working to rectify
the problems, he said.
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), which represented
Mr Innes in court, said he was entitled to use public transport services without discrimination.
“Audible train announcements are crucial because they
allow passengers with vision impairment to know they are getting off at the right station,” said PIAC chief
executive Edward Santow.
By John Bedwell 22nd February
John Bedwell lives inSydney he is the local director of theSydneyNSW Office ofAccredited Disability Access Consultants
Obvius Access. He has published numerous articles relating to
DisabilityDiscrimination and the need for better public and political awareness of the level ofaccessibility denial that
exists in our communities today read more on www.accessconsultant.com.au