Site navigation

Change font size: SmallerLargerReload

follow us   facebook icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Graeme Innes' facebook page in a new window twitter icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Graeme Innes' twitter page in a new window youtube icon: Clicking on this is going to AHRC's YouTube page in a new window flickr icon: Clicking on this is going to open AHRC's flickr page in a new window something in common icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Something in Common website in a new window

Video Transcript

Back to video

Driving change

MAN: Put 'em in separately, yeah. The vouchers.

NARRATOR: It's 9am, and Greg Killeen's carer is helping him to get ready to catch a taxi to work.

It should be easy, but all too often, Greg can't get what he needs.

I use wheelchair-accessible taxis between 6 and 16 times a week.

It's to get to and from work and to meetings, go shopping, for recreational use and going out with family and friends.

Each time I book a taxi, it's just like a lottery.

You would never know what type of vehicle would turn up.

And if one turned up and you couldn't get in, it made a delay.

I could have been going to a show, I could have been going to a sporting event, I could have been going to a longstanding medical appointment.

Regardless, you know, I'd often be getting taxis that I couldn't get into, and I'd end up having to get another taxi and arriving late to important engagements.

Greg is the senior policy and advocacy officer for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.

He should be in his office by now, but Greg's still waiting for an accessible taxi to take him there.

It's important that all modes of public transport, including taxis, provide equitable access for people with disability.

Because if you don't have accessible transport at all, it's very difficult to obtain and maintain education, employment and just to have a social life and to get out and about as required.

Wheelchair-accessible taxis have been available in New South Wales since 1981.

Today, 1 in 7 taxis is classed as accessible to people in wheelchairs.

But accessibility isn't always possible.

Many of the taxis have ramps and doors that encroach on the passenger's space, which means many taxis simply aren't actually accessible at all.

Greg had complained about the poor service with wheelchair-accessible taxis for many years.

But the inaccessible taxis was the last straw.

To try to address this complaint, I initially wrote to the Minister for Transport in June 2006.

I then made a complaint to the New South Wales Ombudsman, who accepted my complaint in December 2006.

And after 18 months of investigation, the Ombudsman's final report recommendations didn't quite address the crux of my complaint, which was to have all New South Wales taxis audited for compliance with the transport standards.

And because it didn't address the crux of the complaint, I then decided to lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Commission with the support of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

PIAC is an independent non-profit law and policy organisation.

We've been around for about 30 years. And our specialty is in running test cases on social justice issues.

It was the Disability Discrimination Act that made Greg's case possible, a case that went all the way to the Federal Magistrates Court.

I ended up pursuing it in the Federal Magistrates Court because I wanted to get justice, because I really felt that the government and the taxi networks should be found accountable.

The Federal Court gave a very important, very clear decision.

And that is that if you're a person in a wheelchair, you must be able to properly access what is known as a wheelchair-accessible taxi.

The outcome of my complaint means that all new wheelchair-accessible taxis in New South Wales from October 1, 2011, will have adequate space for the majority of people using wheelchairs.

Greg's case was significant for people who use wheelchairs in New South Wales.

But since the average taxi lasts about a decade, it will be a few more years until all so-called accessible taxis will be genuinely accessible.