Adelaide Railway Station short on toilets for people with disabilities

Asia-Pacific, September 3 2011

Adelaide, NZ: A Wheelchair user man is angered at the indignity he suffered due to a dire lack of disabled toilets at the Adelaide Railway Station.

Ad’m Martin, 29, said he was “mortified” by the incident on Saturday, August 20, about 6pm.

The station has one proper toilet for disabled people and a legally non-complaint one that has been incorrectly signed ‘out of order’ since 2008.

His plight has prompted calls from Dignity for Disability for at least two working toilet for disabled people in the station.

Mr Martin entered the toilet alcove to find one of the two toilets occupied and the other with, as usual, an ‘out of order’ sign next to it.

Mr Martin, who has a degenerative disease of the nervous system, said it was an example of disabled people being treated like “second-class citizens”.

“I retreated from public view up by the toilet that no longer worked while I rang my family for help,” Mr Martin said.

“If Dad hadn’t come down, I still don’t know what I would have done.”

His frustration only increased when he and his father entered the supposedly out-of-order toilet for some privacy, to find the toilet itself appeared to be fine.

“I then waited 20 minutes to get a train which takes approximately 40 minutes to get to my stop, in the cold with wet clothes,” he said.

Mr Martin, a writer and disability arts worker who regularly rides trains from his Davoren Park home into the North Tce station, vented his anger on his Facebook page.

“I am outraged that Adelaide Metro think that one accessible toilet in Adelaide Railway Station is adequate, especially when there is another available that needs to be fixed but has been forgotten or abandoned for such a long time,” he wrote.

Mr Martin immediately made a complaint through the Adelaide Metro website but waited nine days for a response, which explained the signage mistake.

He took no comfort from the response because it meant there was only ever one legally compliant toilet for disabled people.

The station needed more toilet for disabled people and there was a lack of them across the CBD, as well as many areas that were still inaccessible to wheelchairs, he said.

“If I had to write a letter or an email every time I came across an inaccessible area, I’d never leave home,” he said.

“For me, this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“It’s not good enough.”

Dignity for Disability MP Kelly Vincent said the station should have at least two compliant toilet for disabled people to avoid situations like Mr Martin’s.

“This is an out of the ordinary degrading experience that has been inflicted upon him,” she said.

“For too long people with disabilities have quietly tolerated these things.

“It does put the government’s and the department’s commitment to this (disability access) into question.”

THE Transport Department says the Adelaide Railway Station’s older toilet for disabled people was “effectively closed” since the new one was opened in 2008, and kept as a back-up for use when the new one has maintenance work.

But the older toilet was incorrectly signed as “out of order”, frustrating people such as Ad’m Martin.

A spokesman for the department said the old toilet was closed following complaints about “space constraints, taps and door configurations”.

“Unfortunately this closure was not reflected with appropriate signage at the site, which indicated it was out of order,” he said.

“On notification of this issue last week, an immediate review was undertaken. As a consequence, all incorrect signage has now been removed and temporary signage developed for use at those times when maintenance of the compliant toilet is required.”

The department was required to provide “at least one unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet” at the station, he said.

“The department will continue to monitor the demand for facilities available at the Adelaide Railway Station,” he said.

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