In the Media

Concerns over access on footpaths

Paul Barbaro, Disability Rights Advocacy Service (ABC RADIO ADELAIDE 9.06-9.10) Concerns over access on footpaths

David Bevan: I posted a video of this – there’s a bush shelter not far from the ABC on North East Road and it’s up against a brush fence of a house. Next to the bush shelter is the pole and trying to negotiate through the bus shelter and the pole would be really, really hard if you’re in a wheelchair or in a gopher. Ali Clarke said that about the young mums with the pushers. Paul Barbaro, you’re a councillor with Tea Tree Gully Council but you’re also at disability rights advocacy service and you work for that. Is this a one off thing on North East Road or is it a problem across our city?)

Paul Barbaro: It is a problem across Adelaide and the metropolitan area that we’ve experienced and especially with the major arterial roads. They’re landlocked in a way and were planned quite a few years ago well before wheelchairs, walking frames and scooters and the like became more in vogue and I guess it is a difficult one to widen those narrow pathways that you speak of.

David Bevan: I wonder whether we could get together a list of problem spots and start working our way through fixing them. Would anybody be doing that sort of work?

Paul Barbaro: Certainly as our constituencies report those issues to us here at work we do work and contact councils and in the past we’ve had excellent results with many councils including Tea Tree Gully where access and equity legislative requirements demand that those pathways that you speak of are accessible to people using prams and wheelchairs and there has been good results and collaboration among councils and State Government where possible to expand those network areas to allow that access.

David Bevan: There’s no malice here, it’s just that people have got a job to do, they put in the bus shelter and go home without thinking about other people who may have a real problem negotiating this stuff. Thanks very much, Paul.

Quentin Kenihan, Celebrity (ABC RADIO ADELAIDE 9.11-9.13) Concerns over access on footpaths

David Bevan: Quentin Kenihan, if your wheelchair is 88 cm you might have been able to negotiate through this.

Quentin Kenihan: What I had to say is that gophers would not be able to fit through and it is quite a predicament not only where you were but all along major arterial roads. One of the things I’ve faced is along Goodwood Road near the showgrounds there’s a bus stop that I find terribly difficult to get round and as I said in my tweet I think it’s up to local councils to do an access audit on a lot of these areas and potentially widen the footpaths in those sheltered areas so that gophers and wheelchairs can get around.

David Bevan: A texter was saying if you fix it up for the wheelchairs you’re going to fix it up for a whole lot of other footpath users.

Quentin Kenihan: Absolutely – gophers, young mums and dads with strollers, it’s just not wheelchairs per se but it’s access to a multi-demographic area that every council needs to start looking at. The Adelaide City Council has done a little bit of this and they’ve done it quite correctly in that they’ve engaged their access and inclusion committee in this but councils like Salisbury, Port Adelaide, Onkaparinga that have vast areas to cover for them it’s put it in the too hard basket because there’s so many roads and spots to deal with…

Robbi Williams, CEO, JFA Purple Orange (ABC RADIO ADELAIDE 9.13-9.17) Concerns over access on footpaths

David Bevan: Robbi Williams, what’s your organisation?

Robbi Williams: We used to be called Julia Farr Association … we’re now kind of like a social research agency.

David Bevan: What’s your experience? How easy is it for people to negotiate on some our footpaths, particularly on some of our major arterial roads?

Robbi Williams: It’s like an assault course I think on some of the sidewalks, often because we’ve got beautiful trees in Adelaide, but it could be like an assault course if you’re using a wheelchair for mobility. We’re meant to be working to the goals of the National Disability Strategy in Australia which is anchored on the rights of people living with disability in the United Nations and one of the keys to be included in community is access and if folk can’t get from A to B to access our communities and all our resources then we’re not doing a great job at the National Disability Strategy. I think to be fair to a lot of the councils they know they’ve got obligations around access and a number of them have climbed into this in more detail and we’ve got a lot of consultations with those councils and we hear at every consultation we’ve ever run that people have concerns around access on footpaths and the access can be issues around uneven paths because of tree roots or just pavers popping or it can be things that fall off trees like gum nuts which then cause problems for navigation. I’ve got colleagues at our organisation, we’re just on the edge of Unley at Greenhill Road, and they use wheelchairs and they can’t get round to the servo on King William Road because of the state of the footpath.

David Bevan: It would just feel at best frustrating, at worst humiliating … we’ve got a text here from someone saying, ‘David, my elderly mother uses a wheeled walker. She can’t be bothered about going shopping or for a walk due to the clutter.’ … you end up feeling more isolated.)

Robbi Williams: Absolutely, it’s the opposite of what should happen. People should feel a genuine sense of connection and membership in community life but the irony is that technology is getting better and better, so there are lots of different types of assistive technology that can assist people with their mobility and it can be so frustrating if you work hard to get the technology that works well for you and your mobility if you then can’t get out on your street and go down the local shops.

David Bevan: Thank you.

Garry Connor, Dignity Party Candidate (ABC RADIO ADELAIDE 9.17-9.18) Concerns over access on footpaths

David Bevan: Garry Connor, you’re a candidate for Kelly Vincent’s Dignity Party.

Garry Connor: I’m running for the new seat of Gibson.

David Bevan: Where’s Gibson?

Garry Connor: Down Marion way.

David Bevan: Part of the old seat of Bright.

Garry Connor: That’s correct.

David Bevan: What can you do?

Garry Connor: My concern is how housing and the city is now being very built up, very highly populated. They’re knocking down one house and they build three units and my concern is there when families move in they’ve got no room. The garage that’s supplied with the house they fill with their own stuff and they park their cars in front of the garage and a second car gets parked behind that car, it encroaches on the footpath. I’ve got a couple of children with autism, who I used to take for long walks on their three wheeled bikes and you’d be walking along the footpath and you’ve got to stop and manoeuvre around someone’s car and my boys with autism don’t get that. If it’s hard for me with boys on bikes I can only imagine how hard it would be for gophers and wheelchairs and the like.

David Bevan: Thanks for your call.