Call for more wheelchair access in City of Rockingham
A lack of wheelchair access to existing infrastructure within the City of Rockingham is hindering people with disabilities and pushing them out of communities, according to local wheelchair users and disability advocates.
Medina resident Klaus Graef von Adametz, who lost both his legs about three years ago, said it was “nearly impossible” for wheelchair users to access commercial services, particularly along Dixon Road in Rockingham.
“Even when there is a disabled park bay provided, there is no ramp and no access to get from carpark to the pathway,” he said.
“My wife then has to pull my wheelchair up and over high curb edges or call the store and ask for help.”
“It creates a risk for everyone.
“We are people of the community who, unfortunately, need specific help, and it is very bad that we are confronted with a situation where we simply cannot access what is not in the major shopping centre.”
City of Rockingham Mayor Barry Sammels said while it was the City’s responsibility to ensure buildings and footpaths were accessible during the planning approval process, many older commercial developments were approved and built according to previous disabled access standards.
“If there is a condition of planning approval that requires disability access to be made available, then the City can take action. If not, then the City’s jurisdiction is limited.”
However, he said new conditions required off-street parking designed for people with disability, to be linked to the main entrance of a development by accessible paths.
People With Disabilities WA Inc executive director Samantha Jenkinson said the City of Rockingham was among the areas with the largest numbers of people with disabilities in WA.
She said a lack of access to the general community, particularly areas which had not had any improvement over the past 10 to 20 years, was a big issue.
In the lead-up to the May election, the Greens and Senator Jordon Steele-John called for a new $1 billion Accessible Infrastructure Fund to improve accessibility of existing public places and infrastructure.
Mr Steele-John, who has mild cerebral palsy and requires a wheelchair, said greater investment and regulatory changes were needed to “help undo the damage” left by “outdated discriminatory planning regulations”.
“The reality is that absence of accessibility locks people out of their communities,” he said. “By building an in-accessible infrastructure it says to disabled people ‘you are not welcome. . .you are not part of this community’ - it amounts to a form of social apartheid.
“We need local, State and Federal governments to work together to make the changes in the local community - to make sure footpaths are connected and there are accessible toilets. . .but it’s also about having laws so we don’t keep building in-accessible infrastructure into our communities.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails