The issues of access and inclusion are, of course, incredibly important to many of us. We’re very pleased to let you know that someone well know to ParaQuad Tasmania, Richard Witbruek, is part of two bodies working to make a difference.

Richard (pictured below) has just joined the Tasmanian Premier’s Disability Advisory Council (PDAC). The Council’s states it’s ‘primary purpose is to assist the Premier and Government to implement Accessible Island: Tasmania’s Disability Framework for Action . PDAC works with Government and the broader community to promote the inclusion and participation of people with disability in community life.’

Richard said the Council is made up of motivated individuals who are determined to highlight issues faced by people with disability, so that changes can be made in areas like transport, housing, health, education and employment.

“For example, I hear stories about people with disability getting an interview for a job, but immediately find out they are not catered for in the physical environment – even getting to the interview is an issue.”

Another issue of real interest for Richard is transport. He explains that on a positive note, Metro Tasmania’s fleet of buses in 100% accessible.

The Transport Standards require all of Australia’s public transport networks and associated infrastructure to be fully accessible by the end of 2022.  Regrettably Tasmania will not meet this deadline.

Richard encourages all stakeholders to co-design a transport system that benefits all users, ensuring compliance standards are satisfied.

“Without good transport, people face barriers to employment. More thought has to be put into things like bus stops, for example, to allow everyone to have a safe place to wait for transport.

“It’s one thing to have an accessible bus, however if the bus stop isn’t compliant, it is detrimental to potential users, diminishing the experience.”

You can find out about consultation for reform of the Transport Standards here – it’s open until 9 August 2022.

Being part of another body, the National Inclusive Transport Advocacy Network (NITAN), allows Richard to delve further into the issue – and he’s just become Deputy Chair.

“Regional Australia in particular could do a lot better around inclusive transport,”  Richard said.

“One of the things we’ve done at NITAN is to produce a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission around the application by the Australasian Railway Association for temporary exemptions from the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport.”

And what’s Richard’s motivation for being part of these groups?

“I’d like to contribute to making society more inclusive, so that everyone is able to participate fully in every aspect of life.”