RailCorp to pay for disability discrimination

For almost two years, Graeme Innes AM urged RailCorp NSW to get serious about its obligations towards Sydney’s rail passengers with disability by ensuring that its trains provide audible “next stop” announcements. After mediation with RailCorp failed, Mr Innes sued the state-owned rail corporation in the Federal Magistrates Court, alleging its failure to provide audible announcements breached Federal Disability Discrimination law.

In a landmark decision, the Federal Magistrates Court sided with Mr Innes. Federal Magistrate Kenneth Raphael ordered RailCorp to pay $10,000 in compensation to Mr Innes.

Justice Raphael said Mr Innes had suffered indirect discrimination, and RailCorp had been “reactive and haphazard” in its response to Mr Innes’ complaints.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre Chief Executive, Edward Santow, said court action was taken to ensure RailCorp complied with its obligations under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002. He said Mr Innes, who is blind, is entitled to use public transport services without discrimination.

“Audible train announcements are crucial because they allow passengers with vision impairment to know they are getting off at the right station,” Mr Santow said.

Mr Innes, who is the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, took the case in his private capacity. “All I wanted was for RailCorp to do what they do for everyone who is able to read print. That is, tell me where I am,” he said.

Source: Public Interest Advocacy Centre.