In the Media

Mum’s plea on dodgy wheelchair

By Lauren Novak, Political Reporter
The Adelaide Advertiser
Friday 16 December 2016

LENGTHY delays in delivering new wheelchairs and other disability equipment are leaving South Australians like new mother Alicia Dobson and her newborn son at risk.

Ms Dobson’s electric wheelchair is 14 years old and has stopped working at least three times in the past month, including once as she tried to cross a road.

Dignity Party MP Kelly Vincent said Ms Dobson was among “many hundreds” of people waiting for new equipment amid “appalling” delays.

Ms Dobson is asking for a loan wheelchair to ensure she can leave the house with three month-old son Reece during the holiday season.

“Recently, the motor (in the wheelchair) basically died. I was about the cross the road. It was very scary. I had to call my husband to come and get me,” she said.

“It’s a safety issue, a financial issue – it’s (caused a) lack of sleep. It puts more strain on my husband, who’s my fulltime carer, and that’s just not fair.”

Disabilities Minister Leesa Vlahos yesterday said she had asked her department to “urgently assess the safety” of Ms Dobson’s wheelchair and arrange an assessment so she could receive a customised one “as soon as possible”.

Ms Vincent said a new wheelchair was an “essential, fundamental” need for Ms Dobson and her situation should be prioritised.

“Alicia has an electric wheelchair that no longer works and Disability Equipment Services have themselves admitted that it is unsafe to use,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask after 14 years with the same wheelchair to prioritise this family so they can have a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

“This is a young family with a highly dependent three month-old baby and parents who need to get out to the shops, to get the baby to doctors’ appointments.”

Disability SA provided more than 14,000 standard or customised new and refurbished pieces of equipment to clients last financial year. The agency paid for a further 9900plus equipment modifications or repairs. It also funded almost 2500 home upgrades, such as new rails, steps, ramps and bathroom modifications.