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Video Transcript

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Access for all

NARRATOR: The bathroom is a place of privacy.

Not for Maurice Corcoran. Not when you have quadriplegia.

MAURICE: Having to ask constantly for assistance or help is something that takes its toll.

Maurice needs help from his carer, Rick, every morning so he can prepare for work,
go out and support his wife and family.

-All good?
-I reckon.

As good as we're gonna get, mate.

Maurice has quietly fought that prejudice all his life, maintaining independence
where he can.

WOMAN: When we first started going out, I felt like everybody was looking at us.

Because Maurice, being in a wheelchair,

and that was all...

Now I don't take any notice of that.

But, yeah, when I first said I was getting married, a lot of people said,

"Do you really know what you're doing?"

You know, "Have you really thought about this?"


So there was immediate sort of prejudice, people thinking,

"Why on earth would you marry somebody that's in a wheelchair?"

Almost 40 years in a wheelchair has taken its toll, especially on his shoulders,
from transferring in and out of his chair and pushing himself around town.

MAURICE: You know, I have trouble with arthritis and degenerating ability.

And the deterioration of my shoulders and strength has made it much more difficult
for transferring in and out of the chair.

Maurice used to drive but knew he would ultimately rely on public transport.

In 1994, a person in a wheelchair couldn't get on a bus.

That was when we decided that we need to be proactive
and to hold a protest and blockade one of the bus depots.

At one stage, in America, black people, Negro people, were not allowed onto public transport.

Now, that changed, but we, people with disabilities, we're still not able to get onto public transport.

And given that the technology was now there to do it and we're still being excluded,
then it was discrimination on the basis of disability.

So we gave the government an ultimatum to actually get on and do that,
or we threatened to use the Disability Discrimination Act.

In 1994, Maurice lodged one of the first complaints with the Human Rights Commission.

He asked that in future, all buses be accessible.

Till then, he had to use a specialised taxi service.

He hated the undignified process of travelling in the back of a van.

MAURICE: It's not about being extraordinary,
it's about being able to go with my neighbours down to the local bus stop,
be able to get onto the bus and travel to work and come home from work
in the same way that other people do, so...

History tells us that if you keep people separate and keep them away from everyone else,
it just really adds to the attitudinal issues.

And diversity adds a richness to the community.

GRAEME INNES: Maurice Corcoran's story is more than getting from A to B.

Maurice also wants to have his place in the community.

He doesn't want a taxi that's gonna take him in a separate vehicle
and that's gonna be hard for him to get in and out of.

He wants, just like everyone else, to catch the bus
and be able to get on and off the bus, in the same way that I want,
just like everyone else, to catch the train and know where I am when I catch the train.

So removal of discrimination is as much about inclusion in community activities
as it is about removal of physical barriers.

Maurice's complaint started in South Australia, but the case went national.

MAURICE: Prior to it going to that full hearing,
Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales Department of Transport applied to join the case against us.

And the Australian Bus and Coach Association and the Bus Industry Confederation
also applied to the Human Rights Commission to join the case against us.

Maurice's landmark case delivered the biggest change in infrastructure
resulting from discrimination legislation in Australia.

And that was because they understood that, whoever won that case,
it was going to have national implications.

Accessible transport standards have been introduced throughout Australia.

By 2022, all public transport is expected to be accessible.

Not soon enough for Maurice.

It should have taken 15 years generally to get all buses around Australia
to be accessible.

There's been a lot of progress, but we still have a proportion of the bus fleets
that are still not fully accessible.

They should have all been pretty well accessible now.

-Oh, nearly!