Activists ramp up disability concerns

A PERTH bar and restaurant will give visitors with disabilities an access plan after being taken to task by activists.

Swanky Petition in Perth, which was part of the $108 million redevelopment of the heritage-listed State Buildings, earned the ire of disability advocate Samantha Connor after a friend was forced to wait for a staff member to get out a temporary ramp.

It was so wonky the staffer had to hold it into place.

So Ms Connor took a lunch group to the venue to put the foodie hotspot’s accessibility compliance to the test.

She says it failed dismally, but she blames the city’s planners.

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“City of Perth need to get their shit together improving inaccessible buildings. It’s not a case either or, it needs to be accessible. They need to talk to disabled people and form a group which advises them,” says Ms Connor.

Petition didn’t have handrails compliant with national disability standards, there weren’t adequately contrasted steps, tactile ground indicators were poorly placed, and the lift was turned off at the weekend, she groaned.

Perth lawyer Prue Hawkins also visited the venue and baulked at trying to get up the steep ramp in her wheelchair.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re Michael Schumacher or some complete dick who can’t drive a wheelchair, it’s dangerous,” she later said.

Development director Kyle Jeavons says an access working group was consulted, but various building code, heritage and structural requirements would not allow for independent wheelchair access to certain areas.

“The disability discrimination act trumps the heritage act,” Ms Connor told the Voice, arguing that non-compliant steps outside the building had no bearing on its heritage.

But Ms Hawkins describes the disability act as “legislation without teeth,” and echoes Ms Connor’s sentiments about better consultation with Perth’s disability advocates.


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