UNIVERSAL ACCESSIBILITY SHOULD BE A RIGHT
NATIONAL Disability Services WA, representing more than 100 disability service organisations, is supporting calls to make State and Federal electorate offices universally accessible so that all constituents can access their local Member of Parliament.
Concerns have been raised that people with disability face discrimination if they cannot access their local MP after it emerged that Hillarys MLA Peter Katsambanis’ new office ( at Hillarys Boat Harbour) can only be accessed via a narrow stairwell.
It is a basic right that all constituents should be able to visit the office of their local MP.
It is unacceptable that a Member of Parliament has been given an office that cannot be accessed by a section of the community.
The ability to move easily around the community is essential for the economic and social participation of people with disability.
The State Government should be driving the adoption of higher standards and must meet its access and inclusion obligations as outlined in the National Disability Strategy.
WA has made good progress towards an inclusive society but this example shows there is still much work to be done.
The Australian 2015 Census shows that more than one in four people with disability found it difficult to access buildings or facilities in the community in the previous 12 months.
A problem area is older and existing commercial and retail properties which have no requirement to move towards contemporary accessibility standards unless they undergo renovations of an order that required planning approval.
NDS WA calls on the State Government to show leadership on this issue and ensure all State electorate offices meet accessibility guidelines as specified in the Disability ( Access to Buildings) Standards 2010. JULIE WAYLEN National Disability Services WA State manager