One Woman's Fight For Wheelchair Accessible Coaches20 Oct 2011
In the news this week was a story of a fellow disability
activist, who was born with brittle bones or Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI). Julie Haraksin, who uses an electric wheelchair, is suing an Australian bus for discrimination.
Julie called the bus company; Murrays Australia, and tried to book a trip from Sydney to Canberra in 2009, but was denied because she was told that they had no wheelchair accessible busses available.
There is a clause within the Disability Discrimination Act, called ‘unjustifiable hardship’, which allows businesses to deny any modifications which will provide disability
access to the public, if they can prove that altering a store, building or in this case, their fleet of busses, would cost too much, and would therefore be detrimental to their business.
Murrays Australia is using the unjustifiable hardship claim as their defence as to why they didn’t have any wheelchair accessible busses available at the time.
They stated that to alter their entire fleet of 154 coaches would’ve cost them $23 million.
Despite this, since August 2009, Murrays Australia has converted 15 of their coaches, which are used for travel between Sydney and Canberra, to be wheelchair accessible.
Not that I am complaining that they have some wheelchair accessible coaches available now, but doesn’t them altering some of their busses prove an admission of guilt on their behalf?
I had the great pleasure of meeting Julie at the Australian OI conference earlier this year, and I had no idea that she was involved in this case, but now that I know, I feel proud that one of my own is trying to change things for people with disabilities. Good luck Julie and I hope you win!
To view the story about Julie’s case on the NineMSN website, click here: http://news.ninemsn.com.au/national/8361247/disabled-woman-sues-bus-company