Media Releases

Yes, Minister, Same Wheel-Chair Repair Done Over a Dozen Times

Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent is calling on newly appointed Minister for Disabilities to intervene in an apparent failed trial of new electric wheelchairs before serious injury occurs.

Following information received from a constituent that the ‘Optimum’ electric wheelchair fails to meet basic safety and functionality requirements, Miss Vincent has requested that the new Minister take up the challenge to rectify the situation – before it is too late.

‘I have been contacted by a man who has been trialling this new wheelchair, and who has serious concerns about its height clearance. The footplates on the chair only provide a 5cm clearance from the ground and have been breaking so often that he now chooses to use the chair without them,’ said Miss Vincent.

‘The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion have replaced more than a dozen footplates on this person’s wheelchair, it simply beggars belief that this inadequate solution has been repeated so many times.

‘This is an example of throwing good money after bad, when someone is authorising the replacement of footplates that will only last a matter of days. It’s clearly a false economy to keep replacing the footplates when what is required is a custom-built wheelchair for anyone over a certain height.

‘Non-wheelchair users need to appreciate that just getting your wheelchair serviced or attended to can be an extraordinary hassle, and when it has necessitated over a dozen repairs in as many weeks you can imagine the frustration.

‘This unconscionable waste of taxpayers’ money means that it’s not just wheelchair users who have to cop this inconvenience and frustration. All taxpayers will foot the bill for this. The situation would make a good script for a TV sitcom – but the difference is it’s just not funny.

‘I am calling on the new Minister to examine the economics of the situation, and to provide my constituent with a wheelchair that is fit for purpose’ said Miss Vincent.

It appears that the ‘Optimum’ wheelchair, provided through the Adult Specialist Services Intervention Support Team (ASSIST), has been designed for shorter people, and when a taller person uses it any slight bump or irregularity on the ground will result in the metal footplates breaking.