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Video Transcript

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Room for change

STELLA YOUNG: I think there's an underlying assumption that... know, people who use wheelchairs, of course, wouldn't be interested in fashion, which is absolutely not true.

I really like to look my best, and just because I have a disability
doesn't mean it should be any different.

Well, this place actually used to be a bookshop,
and when it was a bookshop, it was over two levels, both of which were independently accessible.

So you could access one level from inside the Jam Factory and one level from the street.

But when it became a Topshop - which I was really excited about, because they're UK brands
that we haven't had access to here - they renovated it to put it over three levels.

The middle level was not independently accessible at all,
so it completely ruined the access of the whole shop.

They had this little lift between those three levels. And the manager said, "Well, there's a key somewhere for that lift.

"Not quite sure where it is, but let me go and check."

He came back with this enormous ring of keys and kept trying them all, not able to find the key for these lifts.

So it was completely useless having them if people can't actually use them, if no-one knows where this key is.

And everybody was very nice.

The store manager offered to lift my chair, and I said, "I doubt
you get paid enough in fashion retail "to break your back lifting me into a shop.

"And I really like clothes,

"but no outfit yet has been worth my dignity

"and being carried into a store."

So, yeah, I left a very unsatisfied customer.

I was shopping for a dress to wear for a friend's birthday party.

And I wanted to try on a dress, but I couldn't access the fitting rooms.

The ideal thing is for me to be able to purchase clothing and take it home and try it on
and take it back in a couple of day if I don't like it or if it doesn't fit.

I asked if I could take the clothes home.

The sales assistant just didn't get it and just kept saying no, flat out no.

I felt quite annoyed, and...

I made a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

And I wanted to use the legislation to get something done about it.

I actually decided that the best way to tackle this was actually through Twitter.

There's nothing like some bad press to get people to act.

So I tweeted that I found it very disappointing that Topshop couldn't provide access.

And they saw my tweet and got straight back to me and said,

"Can we please have your email address?

"We'd like to talk to you about what happened."

So I emailed them some details of what had taken place, that I found it very disappointing that
not only had they renovated the shop to make it so that
it was not independently accessible but no-one actually knew how to use the assisted access that was in place.

The Human Rights Commission contacted me and wrote a letter to the owners of the shop and said that they, um... ..that I had put a complaint in and they had to
do something about it, basically.

WOMAN: We try to have one big fitting room in all of our Globalize stores.

If for some reason that is not big enough, we have the policy where
you can try clothes on at home and then bring them back if they don't fit for a full cash refund.

So that's a simple way of going about a problem that can be avoided. So if you have any problems with these
at all, just bring them straight back.

No particular fuss about it.

You can just purchase the clothes.

If they don't fit, you can just bring them straight back.

See you later.

Within a week, I got an email back from them to say that they'd not only changed the settings on the lift so that you no longer needed a key to operate them but all of the staff in their store had been
given disability awareness training, and they sent me a $100 gift voucher so I could go back

and have a much more accessible clothes purchasing experience.

I think they handled that situation very well, and I think it's a good outcome for all concerned.

And I'll buy their clothes for many years to come, because accessible fashion
is always good.

In the end, they wrote a letter back to me through the Human Rights Commission saying that they're very sorry that I was inconvenienced and that they would allow people with disabilities to buy clothing from their store and take it back within two days.

Look, I think social media is a fantastic tool for social change.

And whether it's, you know, tweeting your dissatisfaction about a product or a service
or a company, it's public - everyone can see it.

I think as soon as people hear the words "disability discrimination", they get quite nervous.

Not only is it really uncool, but, you know, there are legal ramifications for discriminating against people with disabilities.

And I think that it's really important that, while we can use social media, we do have legislation that can back us up as well.