The Australian Human Rights Commission has received an application for temporary exemptions from the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).
The ARA is a peak industry body representing railway operators in Australia. It seeks temporary exemptions on behalf of its members under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA), from a number of standards in the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (Cth) (Transport Standards), and from a number of standards in the Disability (Access to Premises – Buildings) Standards 2010 (Cth) (Premises Standards).
The Commission has the power to grant temporary exemptions under section 55 of the DDA, section 33A.1 of the Transport Standards, and section 5.1 of the Premises Standards.
The Commission granted the ARA a number of temporary exemptions under the DDA and the Transport Standards in 2007. At that time, the Commission also deferred its decision in relation to a number of exemptions applied for by the ARA, and declined to grant a number of exemptions.
The Commission has, on the application of the ARA, granted further exemptions on a number of occasions, which effectively extended the effect of the majority of the exemptions granted in 2007. The current exemptions will expire on 30 September 2015.
The exemptions now sought by the ARA can be divided into three categories:
Exemptions which have been previously granted by the Commission
Exemptions which the ARA applied for in 2007, but with respect to which the Commission deferred its decision
Exemptions from the Premises Standards (which were not in force in 2007 when the ARA originally sought temporary exemptions).
These exemptions are all sought for a period of five years.
With respect to each exemption sought, the ARA’s application includes submissions addressing whether the Commission has previously granted an exemption in the same or similar terms, whether any such exemption was granted subject to any terms and conditions, how the ARA has complied with any terms and conditions, and submissions in support of the ARA’s application.
The ARA has included in appendix 2 to its application extracts from relevant Australian Standards which are referred to in the Transport Standards and the Premises Standards.
Attachment 4: WEBB Queensland, Passenger Rail Network-Lighting of Station Environment to Comply with Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport (2004): ATTACHMENT 4 WEBB REPORT.docx
The Commission notes that the first three attachments to the ARA’s application have been provided only in .pdf format. The ARA has informed the Commission that it is unable to provide copies of these documents in alternative formats.
Please note that the ARA’s application, and its appendices and attachments, contain copyright material, which is reproduced under licence. These materials may only be reproduced for the purpose of considering and responding to the ARA’s application.
Relevant previous Commission decisions
Commission decision dated 22 January 2007 – available here.
Commission decision dated 5 November 2007 – “Direct Assistance in Ascending and Descending Boarding Ramps” – available here.
The DDA can be accessed here.
The Transport Standards can be accessed here.
The Premises Standards can be accessed here.
The Commission’s Guidelines for Temporary Exemptions under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 can be found here.
Request for Submissions
The Australian Human Rights Commission invited interested parties to make submissions.
The closing date for written submissions was Friday 17 July 2015.
On 14 August 2015, the ARA provided the following supplementary submission, with one attachment, addressing a number of matters raised in the submissions received during the public consultation, and a number of questions asked by the Commission:
The Commission has retained a consultant to provide technical expertise and advice with respect to the ARA’s application, and the evidence and submissions received from the public. The Commission’s expert has now provided a report.
The Commission is providing an opportunity for interested parties to provide further submissions in response to the following matters arising from the expert report:
proposals that in the event particular exemptions are granted, they be granted subject to conditions that in some respects differ from conditions that are attached to the exemptions that are currently operative with respect to members of the ARA
proposals that in the event several of the exemptions sought by the ARA are granted, they be granted in terms differing from those sought by the ARA
any matters, or evidential material, contained in the expert report that has not previously been addressed in public submissions (including, where relevant, opinions based on the expertise of the Commission’s retained expert)
The Commission requests that any additional submissions addressing these topics be provided by 5 pm, 17 September 2015. Where possible, the Commission requests that submissions be provided by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about how to make submissions is contained in the “Request for Submissions” section of this page (above).
The Commission's expert report can be accessed here:
On 1 October 2015, the Commission made its decision with respect to the application. The Commission decided to grant some of the exemptions sought, and declined to grant others. The Commission’s decision can be accessed here: