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Disability Services - Disability Access

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: Disability, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, Emma Butler lives with cerebral palsy and her extraordinary chariot of a motorised wheelchair allows her to live as independently as she possibly can. Often, she heads to her local Ravenswood shops by driving along the road and unfortunately, she is forced to do that because the footpaths are not wide enough. She risks getting pulled over police, which has obviously happened to her too many times, because her chair is too wide to take the footpath.

You would know about Ms Butler because she came to visit you to make a complaint recently at the Government's St Johns Street building but couldn't get through the automatic doors because they didn't stay open for her. She couldn't line up her chair to get through the door because there was not enough room and there was a set of stairs behind her. There were also tables and chairs and rugs and whole bunch of other things on the floor, so she struggled to make a complaint.

People living with disabilities shouldn't have to put up with this to make a complaint. What are you doing to fix this situation, minister?

Ms COURTNEY - First, I want to clarify: when Ms Butler came to visit me, it was talking proactively about some other opportunities. I'm not going to go into the context of the meeting. I don't recall her coming into the meeting for the purpose of lodging a complaint. It was more a proactive conversation around some other matters and opportunities.

As by interjection from Ms O'Byrne, yes there is work under way in those buildings, so the meeting occurred when we had substantial renovations under way. Because of that, there were some materials around that needed to moved. The work under way is ensuring that we are improving disability access. It was unfortunate timing that the meeting coincided with works at the site, which meant there was a lot of objects that we did have to move. But it was a productive meeting and I am grateful for the feedback Ms Butler has provided me.

Dr WOODRUFF - When you say you're 'improving' it for people with disabilities, are you fixing it? The situation with the automatic doors, for example, would be something that people with disabilities all around the state would confront far too often. Are you fixing the problem, or are you just making it a little bit less bad than it was? Are there standards for automatic doors, so that people with disabilities can get into every government department?

Ms COURTNEY - With regards to the access at that building, Ms Butler was required to use a difference entrance to the entrance usually used by people to access my office. With regards to the building itself, I believe it is owned by the Department of Treasury and Finance and I don't believe that the work under way has been completed yet. That would be a question for the Treasurer, under that department, because it is their building.

However, obviously as the Minister for Disability Services but as any minister in the Government, no matter what my portfolio is, it's important that we have appropriate access for people with disability. I am more than happy to commit to approach the minister responsible to ensure that the renovations done have compliance of access.