Disability Services Minister Margaret Quirk has called on shopping centres in Western Australia to ensure that staff are aware of the rights of people with disabilities, after two Melbourne men were publicly humiliated in a wheelchair incident.
Ms Quirk said she was appalled and outraged at the reported treatment of the men, who were refused permission to take shopping centre-provided wheelchairs beyond the centre doors, forcing one to crawl to his car while the other had to be carried by his sister.
The men, who both have muscular dystrophy, said they were deeply embarrassed and humiliated by the experience.
Ms Quirk said the incident served as a wake-up call both to the public and private sectors, to ensure that staff were not only aware of the legal rights of people with disabilities but were well versed in appropriate and compassionate behaviour.
“This is blatant discrimination and entirely unacceptable in this day and age,” she said.
“It beggars belief that someone thought it was acceptable to allow these men to crawl and be carried to their car.
“In WA, we have worked closely with the business sector to ensure the rights of people with disabilities are upheld and I am aware that many shopping centres have been actively addressing the needs of their customers with disabilities.
“I particularly congratulate Centro Mandurah Shopping Centre, which I recently visited, for their accessible and inclusive policies.
“However, in light of this shocking incident, I think it is timely that all shopping centres alert their staff to their equipment guidelines to ensure this does not happen in WA.”
Minister's office: 9213 7000