Complete lack of transport options for mobility-impaired people in South Australia in the 1970s

1978 – Richard Llewellyn contribution, A Consumer Viewpoint, to the Australian Council on Rehabilitation for Disabled Forum – Transport for the Disabled

Ad hoc planning approach to disability transport problems is failing

Presently there is an ad hoc approach by the community to the transport problems it has created for disabled people.

If I may make, Mr. Chairman, one small criticism of the ACROD Forums, it would be that they tend to perpetrate the fragmentation of planning regarding various subjects and aspects of disability. The ad hoc parallel committee system of ACROD almost guarantees lack of communication and isolation to the various problems.

A more comprehensive approach by the community will be required in order for it to correct the discrimination it has built up against disabled people.

It is really of little use for disabled people to be transported by a wonderful system such as St. Johns to find that when you arrive at their brand new headquarters you are confronted by a flight of stairs. We need a package of reforms and we need them now.

What disabled people need when planning transport

The first requirement for transport for the disabled is:

  • Disabled people need to want to go somewhere. 
  • There has to be access when we get there. 
  • There has to be something for them to do when we get there. 
  • There needs to be acceptance of us as people.  
  • The finances to afford: the trip or the reason for the trip. ($4.00 for a theatre seat makes quite a hole in an In-valid pension). 

System designed for institutions to benefit, not the disabled consumer

From a consumer viewpoint, we welcome the Pak Poy study as it confirms our argument that the present transport system is not for the benefit of the mentally and physically handicapped, but for the institutions, indeed, the industry itself. It also shows that this institutional transport is often overlapping and, therefore, wasteful.

It is interesting to compare the 700 individuals who it is thought may possibly need special disabled parking permits in South Australia as quoted by the Bright Committee with this survey which covers 6,000 people currently being transported by the so-called, Disabled Transport Service. Pak Poy shows on page 5, that only some 221 highly dependent people are transported by this system up to the age of 65. In other words, the great majority of these 6,000 people do not need specialised transport at all.

Richard proposes specialised conversion of vehicles for people with severe disability

My criticism of the Report would be that not enough positive costing and emphasis has been given to providing individuals who have special needs with their own specialised transport.

Using present costs the most extreme conversion, the Kearns Vehicle, is $10,000. To provide 200 people with this vehicle would cost $2million, job complete.

Accessible taxi scheme costed in 1978

Pak Poy estimates Page 49, the cost of transporting 200 people by taxi is $l million per annum. There are many more than 200 people transported by this system alone, year after year after year.

We consumers ask that the funding authorities consider this type of proposition with much more emphasis than this report gives when making any changes. The solution, in fact, lies with the funding authorities and their resistance to providing the transport options we need. We ask them to get rolling on creating true transport options for we disabled people who need it.