Hobart and Launceston airports have adopted the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program so that people with a hidden disability, such as a learning disability, mental health, mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairment, can be identified if they wish, and supported during their time in the airport.
Hobart Airport says, ‘not all disabilities are visible and we’re doing our bit to help reduce barriers to travel that many people with hidden disabilities face.’
The airport acknowledges that living with an invisible disability ‘can make daily life more demanding for many people, but it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge or understand the challenges faced.’
Hobart Airport launched its program back in August 2022 and it says, ‘all staff are trained to recognise the sunflower and that the wearer may need assistance or simply a little bit more time.’
The airport’s website explains that ‘wearing a Sunflower lanyard at Hobart Airport indicates to airport staff that you may need additional support or a little more time to complete your journey through the airport.
‘Airport staff may ask how they can assist, or you or your carer might like to use your lanyard to help explain any additional support you require.
‘If you are feeling overwhelmed during any stage of the airport process, please approach an airport staff member for assistance and we can slow down the process, help you find a quiet part of the terminal or offer assurance to help make the journey through our terminal as comfortable as possible.’
The program was launched in Gatwick Airport, UK in 2016 and is found in airports around the globe. The program has been so successful it has now been adopted by rail companies, supermarkets, banks, football clubs and shopping centres all over the world.
Alongside Hobart and Launceston airports, the program also runs at Adelaide, Albury, Brisbane, Gold Coast,, Melbourne, Perth, Shellharbour and Sydney airports (Cairns and Canberra are coming on board).
You can request a lanyard (anyone can get one) in advance, at least 7 days before your travel date by filling in the online form found here.
Why a sunflower? The Hidden Disabilities website explains:
We wanted a discreet sign which was still clearly visible from a distance as well as being distinctive, joyful, and dynamic. We chose a sunflower as it suggests happiness, positivity, strength as well as growth and confidence and is universally known.