Fw: Sat.19.2.22 daily digest
  Roderick Smith

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Sat.19.2.22 Metro Twitter
Aircraft: No ramp access to platforms until late 2021 (pedestrian-underpass works), delayed to March 2022.
Flinders St: still with a lane closed for tunnel works?
Murray Road, Preston closed in both directions until 6am (work).  detour using Bell Street.
Buses replace trains Sunshine - Sunbury until the last train of Sun 20 Feb (works).
Sunbury/Upfield lines: All trains terminate/originate at Sthn Cross from 5am Sat 19 Feb to 1:15am Sun 20 Feb, while works take place. From Flinders St, take train from Pl. 1, change at Sthn Cross.  From Loop stns, take Flinders St train from Pl. 1, change at Sthn Cross.
Craigieburn line: All trains direct to/from Flinders St via Sthn Cross, not via Loop all day, while works take place.  From City Loop, take a Flinders St train from Pl.1, change at Sthn Cross. Note: Service changes apply for Sunbury & Upfield line trains during this time.
Buses replace trains Newport - Williamstown until the last train of Sun 20 Feb (works).
Buses replace trains on sections of the Werribee line until the last train of Wed 23 Feb (works).
Cranbourne/Pakenham lines: All trains direct to/from Flinders St via Sthn Cross, not via City Loop all day, while works take place. From City Loop, take train from Pl. 4 and change at Richmond for a connecting train.
9.47 Major delays outbound Caulfield - Frankston (an 'operational incident').
- 9.59 minor and clearing.
14.13  Werribee/Williamstown/Sunbury lines: Major delays for through Footscray (a trespasser).
- 14.43 Trains are on the move, with major delays clearing.

How accessible is Melbourne for people with a disability? Jewel Topsfield February 19, 2022
When Lonely Planet described Federation Square as “not for everyone” the travel bible wasn’t referring to its love-it-or-loathe-it aesthetic.
It meant Melbourne’s premier civic space was literally not for everyone; for people in a wheelchair the uneven sandstone tiles in Federation Square can be difficult to traverse.
video City by wheelchair 'Accessibility is being able to get onto the dancefloor.'
“There are accessible lifts and toilets, so it’s good in that respect,” says Martin Heng, the author of Accessible Melbourne, Lonely Planet’s guide for travellers with access needs.
“But the open square itself is pretty much a disaster for two reasons: first of all the gradient and secondly the cobblestones. It’s so disappointing.”
Heng, an inclusive travel expert and member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council, has travelled the world in his wheelchair.
He says compared with other major cities in the world Melbourne – with its compact and relatively flat city centre – is reasonably accessible.
Lonely Planet author Martin Heng says Melbourne is reasonably accessible on a global scale.CREDIT:CHRIS HOPKINS
Major tourist attractions and public transport – with the exception of many trams – are accessible and city intersections have audio pedestrian crossing signals and tactile paving for the vision impaired.
But the city is not always inclusive of the 17 per cent of Victorians, more than a million people, who have a disability.
When tennis star Dylan Alcott, a Melburnian, made history by becoming the first person with a visible disability to be named Australian of the Year last month, he immediately raised awareness about accessibility.
“I thought I was no chance and then I got here and I saw this really good-looking ramp and I thought, ‘I might have a chance here’,” he quipped in his acceptance speech.
Dylan Alcott after winning the 2021 Australian Open Quad Wheelchair Singles Title.CREDIT:DARRIAN TRAYNOR
Alcott has famously crowd surfed in his wheelchair at music festivals and created Australia’s first accessible and fully inclusive music festival, AbilityFest.
He has pledged to use his platform as Australian of the Year to change perceptions “so people with disability, people like me, can get out there and live the lives that they deserve to live”.
People with a disability hope Alcott’s advocacy will lead to change.
“There are not many people who have done as much from an awareness point of view as Dylan,” says Ryan Smith, the creator of Free Wheel Weekends, a website aimed at providing fellow wheelchair users with the lowdown on accessibility.
Wheelchair users have been complaining about tram access for years.CREDIT:JASON SOUTH
“I’ll be interested to see how he uses that platform to benefit people with all sorts of disability, including invisible disability.”
In Melbourne, one of the running sores is the inaccessibility of the tram network for people in a wheelchair.
Just 27 per cent of the city’s 1700 tram stops are level-access despite federal Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 requiring they all be accessible by the end of this year.
A 2020 Victorian Auditor General report said the Department of Transport “cannot comply” with this target, putting the government at risk of breaching discrimination laws by failing to stop and remove discriminatory practices.
“Non-compliance poses a financial risk for the state due to possible legal rulings against it for not meeting legislative requirements,” the report said.
Five people with a range of disabilities have already launched legal action under Victoria’s Equal Opportunity Act, saying it is unacceptable that disability standards created two decades ago are still so far from being met.
The state government told The Age the federal standards are currently being reviewed, but improved accessibility remains its priority for current and future transport projects.
“There’s always more that can be done, and we are actively working with operators and the community to ensure every Victorian can safely get to where they need to go,” a spokesperson said.
Ray Jordan has been stuck on a train when the driver forgot to attach a ramp to let him off.CREDIT:PAUL JEFFERS
All Metro railway stations are accessible via ramp or lifts except Heyington station in Toorak.
Ray Jordan is the administrator of the All Aboard network, which fights to eliminate the discrimination faced by people with disability on public transport.
Like many wheelchair users, he has been left stranded at a station or stuck on a train when the driver forgot to get out and place a ramp between the station platform and train floor.
“It was very frustrating,” Jordan says. “The ideal is perfectly level access where you don’t need to rely on a driver to put down a ramp, you just drive your wheelchair straight on the train. They can do it in Atlanta, they can do it in Perth, they can do it in a lot of places around the world.”
City of Melbourne’s disability access plan pledges to work with transport groups to make transport more accessible.
It also says it will make sure access is part of its building plans, increase the number of changing places (accessible toilets with change tables and hoists for people with severe disabilities), make events more accessible, employ people with disability and distribute sunflower lanyards that indicate someone has a hidden disability.
“Accessibility will always be a key priority at the City of Melbourne, and we will continue listening to our community regarding any possible improvements that can be made,” says lord mayor Sally Capp.
The council provides an interactive CBD mobility map, documenting street gradients, accessible toilets, mobility recharging points and disabled parking.
Kelly Schulz says taxis will sometimes refuse to pick her up with her guide dog Velvet.CREDIT:WAYNE TAYLOR
Virtual GPS beacons along Bourke and Swanston streets send audio messages about potential obstacles – such as construction work – to the phone app BlindSquare to help people with low vision or blindness navigate the city.
Kelly Schulz is an accessibility advisor, who has had a congenital vision impairment since birth.
“There are some great things in Melbourne that are not in other places, such as audible traffic lights and tactile street signage,” she says.
“In terms of navigating the streets themselves, Melbourne is not too bad, and it certainly helps having a Hoddle grid.”
However the rise in outdoor dining due to the pandemic had seen an increase in footpaths being cluttered with outdoor tables and chairs and menu and sanitiser stands, along with motorbikes and signage.
Schulz says the push to discourage cars from the CBD also made life difficult for people with disabilities.
“Because of the bike lanes that have been added there is no safe place for me to alight next to work anymore,” she says.
Public transport is also a challenge. “If you’re trying to catch a bus, it’s often likely that there are five, 10 different buses that might stop at the particular stop and they tend to rank rather than pull up to the stop. And so that relies on the kindness of strangers to tell me if this is the bus I want or not.“
In Victoria guide dogs are legally allowed to travel on any form of public transport, including taxis and Ubers, and enter shops, restaurants, theatres and hotels.
However it can still be a battle for Schulz to get her dog, Velvet, into taxis or restaurants.
“You walk up to a taxi and you hear the click of a lock come down as you approach the car. They say: ‘I can’t take the dog because I’ve got leather seats’ or ‘I can’t take the dog because I’m allergic’ or dogs aren’t allowed, or every variety of reason.”
Chloe Polglaze, who is autistic, says that when the CBD is quiet and she can plan ahead with public transport she finds the city easy to navigate.
She seeks out green spaces and has found nooks where she can chill, such as near the lifts at the end of Flinders Street station, where the crowds are thinner. “It’s about finding little realms of reprieve because it’s quite a bustling city.”
But if public transport is disrupted or the phone network impacted Polglaze says she can become overwhelmed.
“If I have to walk an extra bit that wasn’t expected or something like that, and my chronic pain is triggered, then I become very dysregulated and I can’t cope with much additional sensory input,” Polglaze says.
“It would be cool if there was a sensory map of the city that includes bright lights and knowing when it’s loud and when it’s quiet and public transport disruptions being communicated better.”
A number of venues in the city, including the State Library, National Gallery of Victoria, Marvel Stadium and Melbourne Museum, are becoming more inclusive of autistic people.
They might provide social scripts, which show autistic people what they will encounter during a visit, offer sensory friendly maps, which indicate quiet spaces with fewer people and busy areas with loud noises, and hold relaxed sessions.
Marvel Stadium has a sensory room that offers a quiet space for autistic people, dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder and other similar conditions. Sensory bags containing noise-cancelling headphones, fidget tools, visual cue cards and weighted lap pads are also available to guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment.
Polglaze has attended relaxed sessions at the theatre and at art galleries. She says the volume and lighting is usually softer, a warning might be provided if there is an overwhelming scene and the audience numbers are smaller.
Ryan Smith says toilets, carparks, gradient and surface are the first things he considers when planning outings in the city.CREDIT:PAUL JEFFERS
“There’s a bit more consideration and it’s just toned back. The people around you are probably going to be more understanding too. It’s interesting – it’s not just autistic people who benefit from those sessions, for example sometimes wheelchair users will use them too because they know there’s going to be less people and they’re more likely to be able to see the art and move around freely.”
Read Ryan Smith’s reviews of Melbourne destinations and you’ll notice a lot of critiques of ground surfaces.
“I spend a lot of my time looking down … which is not the best way to see a city,” says Smith, the creator of Free Wheel Weekends, who is studying to be an inclusion consultant. “I basically created the sort of resource that I would use.”
He reviews Federation Square: “the incline and paving style are the main issues”, Camberwell market “a slow roll (read:incline) but great for a rummage and cheese toastie” and Mr Myagi (“long, sloped timber floor ... good amount of space in high traffic areas.”
Toilets, carparks, gradient and surface are the first things he considers when planning outings in the city.
“It’s not sexy and maybe that’s why it doesn’t get included in a lot of tourism, but it’s absolutely crucial for somebody like me to understand what to expect.”
Fed Square chief executive Caroline Ralphsmith said a bathroom designed for people who cannot use standard accessible toilets had recently been installed.
“We’re continually listening and learning from communities with the objective of Fed Square being a place for everyone,” she said.
A Tourism Research Australia report found 14 per cent of the Australian population (an estimated 3.4 million people) had need of accessible tourism experiences.
It said by 2050, nearly one quarter of the population would be aged 65 and over, with the growth in the ageing population and longer life expectancy leading to greater numbers of travellers who may need extra assistance.
Smith says any destination that isn’t accessible is missing out on a big chunk of the market.
He urges wheelchair users to “keep rolling”.
“Everytime we go to the supermarket or meet friends for a coffee, this is a moment to show people that we exist and we want to be included in society.”
RELATED ARTICLE Martin Leckey is one of the complainants suing the state government and Yarra Trams. Wheelchair users take legal action over ‘frustrating’ pace of tram upgrades
RELATED ARTICLE Stacey Christie says it is incredibly frustrating when stairs mean she can't access a building. 'Sometimes train drivers forget you': How to make Melbourne more accessible for people with disabilities
* I have for the most part an invisible illness, but there are times when I need a walking stick or wheelchair. I usually need these the most in Melb, but we stay in Ballarat when we visit so I have accessible accommodation for myself and my carer. I find it really disconcerting when we travel into Melb via train and we get back to the regional departure point early, and they change the platform! Most times you don’t have a choice but to try and undertake the long walk to opposite ends of platforms, or the escalators aren’t working and there are steep stairs to get to the regional trains. I have to cling to my carer standing in front of me to get through the stairs in case I fall, and then it leaves me unable to walk for the next week too. The trains and trams are not easy to use. Last time we ended up getting driven in and took the wheelchair - still was difficult, but in different ways. People were nicer to me in the chair, though I walked on my stick in the city- have had that kicked my walking stick out from under me … just by a random city person (while my carer rushed to get me a taxi from a rank I couldn’t walk to). And out of the dozen people around me when I collapsed against a wall, the only person that stopped to help was someone driving past down a side alley. It has totally shaken my confidence and I will not go to the city if I can avoid it. Apart from city planning, we can also work on having people more respectful and helpful towards each other- that goes such a long way tp helping people that need it. Please be kind to each other ✌️
* Accessibility shouldn’t just stop in the public realm. There is no minimum quota for new apartments to be adaptable housing, ie able to accommodate wheelchair occupants. Shocking really given approx. 20% population have a disability of some sort and we have an ageing population. Developers assume wheelchair users are either in social housing or aged care. Segregated and without choice. Not can a potential buyer negotiate appropriate changes with developer because it’s too late in the process. How is this inclusive???
* Great article. Touches the hearts. Puts the finger on the main issue - we make and build so much infrastructure for the public, but forgetting or even ignoring that the disabled too are humans and look forward to common facilities, be they toilets, footpaths, trains, trams or buses.
* At the very least, all public facilities and public transport must all be easily accessible by wheelchair We should all be doing an audit of our workplaces and determine if they are accessible to people in a wheelchair. If not, it is time to fix the situation.
* I think a fair bit of the problem is Melbourne is, at heart, a Victorian era city. Retrofitting disability access to Victorian era buildings is difficult. However, the footpaths on our major streets are quite wide. Perhaps we need disability drop off places to try to cater to the different users in the city. We, certainly, need to ensure that Uber/taxi drivers understand their responsibilities. It is hard to make all tram stops accessible when roads are narrow. Perhaps the trams need to be redesigned to allow lifts, on the trams, to go up from street level. In relation to the city, unfortunately this becomes a dance of usage. I have, certainly, enjoyed the outdoor dining options we are, now, getting. Perhaps we need to put in better clear way indicators so restaurants know what to leave clear. There is a lot that could be done to provide better access and performances better suited to the disabled. Personally I loath so much about Fed square. A nice open area with a few food places, maybe even food trunks, would’ve been much better. The parks looking at each other across the river. We, certainly, need to do what we can but limitations also need to be taken into account. Some things we can’t fix but we, certainly, need to do what we can. Melbourne is, truly, a great city. We need to enable as many people as possible to share it.
* They retrofitted disability access including a lift in the Colosseum in Rome and that's almost as old as Melbourne.
* Older class trams are impossible for people in wheelchairs and the steps very difficult for people with mobility issues.
* I have cerebral palsy and even though I do not use a wheelchair, I find it very difficult to get on and off trains independently because of the gap between the platform and the train. When I was at university 20 years ago, I was quite comfortable with catching the train into the city and back because the gaps were very small and didn’t pose a safety risk. I don’t understand why new trains and stations have been built without this being taken into consideration
* I believe it was a design mistake.
* I’m in a wheelchair and have traveled to Melbourne twice a month, and found that our city is not very safe to travel around for anyone who has a any impairment because the footpaths aren’t at all flat !!! Not a lot of public disabled toilets!, I find that people say all the right things but they don’t do anything about these things
* We still have a lot to do to make life easier for disabled people but also need to put that into perspective compared to other countries. I have caught trains around London. When a train arrives at a station the floor of the train is often lower or higher than the platform level. Many suburban stations do not have escalators or lift or disabled toilets. Ramp access for older buildings is another problem.
* London was old when Melbourne was a baby. Melbourne is only now building an "Underground". Much easier when your trains are on the surface. No excuse.
* Let’s not forget accessibility issues for people with cognitive impairment who can find navigating the city difficult too.
* Dylan you are inspiring. This review article is a great beginning. Access is not just limited for those people with a handicap consider prams, walkers and shopping trolleys. I have a progressive muscle wasting disease, inclusion body myositis. Currently I am in the “invisible” category but I cannot get into most buses or some trams, steep steps are often impassible, uneven footpaths and other paved areas are a trip hazard etc. I live in the City of Yarra and they duck responsibility for making the built environment more accessible - clearly not a priority for a Greens dominated council who appear more focussed on the optics such as murals. We need more people like Dylan to provide leadership. Anyone might have short term accessibility problems, such as needing crutches, please consider and advocate for those of us who are limited by barriers every day.
* I’m a City of Yarra resident and I quite agree with the footpaths. I tripped over a footpath broken by a tree root and broke my finger. But Fitzroy council is hampered by a number of our civic buildings being Victorian era. There are a number of “tin shed” toilets in the main shopping areas but, I will agree, they aren’t great. Your sneer at the “Greens council” is unwarranted. They do a lot more than put up murals. I assume that is the slur at the gay activist mural that has been put up. You want to be tolerated, and helped, then tolerate others. Frankly, with your attitude, I don’t think Yarra would miss you if you found somewhere else to go. However, I can’t see you finding a council more accomodating. The trouble for Yarra council is this is a diverse area covering a lot of different people. We have housing commission and million dollar houses. We have young able bodied and disabled. We have old and young, multi coloured and multi cultural. I attended the pride party, last Sunday, and it was a hoot. I’m 60 years old and “straight”. These are tight areas where it is difficult to put in facilities, however, we do need to do better. It is difficult to balance everyone’s needs, and wants, and the council is trying to cover as much ground as possible. Instead of sneering offer suggestions. What facilities do you want where. The council is pretty open to suggestions. More open than a lot of councils.
* A few years ago I would take my dad out in his wheelchair around residential streets and it was so difficult navigating the footpaths and cobblestone gutters. More recently taking my frail elderly aunt out shopping I worry she will have more trips on tricky uneven footpaths. Melbourne, we can do better.
* Federation Square is difficult for the elderly let alone those with significant disabilities.
* This is so exciting for people with disabilities to get a voice with Dylan as this years Aussie of the year. So many places are inaccessible, especially older buildings like pubs, it might just be one step to people but in a wheelchair it means it cannot be accessed. You’re constantly wondering before going out ‘will this be accessible’.
* Let’s hope the Feds listen to him rather than the way they ignored Grace Tame. Then again he is male so he has a better chance. However, I completely agree that more needs to be done. I hope that a list of practical changes can be drawn up and actioned.
* Disability access is generally a State & Local Govt issue, not Federal. As is policy and legislation relating to sexual assault & sexual abuse generally a State issue. Grace Tame gained credibility by challenging the law in Tasmania regarding identifying victims. Maybe she should have continued to advocate for improved legislation and policies in the States as did Rose Batty who campaigned successfully.
* Having been in a wheelchair for many years now, Melbourne is pretty good for accessibility. Yes we can continue to update the trams and tram stops, but generally trams and trains not too bad. Accessible toilets are getting more commonplace although recognise the challenges for these in the older buildings that often house my old favourite resturants. Footpaths improving, and the ramps certainly present on all newer buildings. Compared to Europe and much of Asia Melbourne can stand tall. Found it amazing European train platforms do not match the train floors, accessible toilets rare (often as are any toilets for that matter), and cobblestones...... and Asia, well varies by country, but challenging to say the very least. Just take a taxi. Can Melbourne improve? Certainly, and cannot think of anyone better to lead that call than Dylan.
* Thank you for this article and please keep shining the spotlight on this issue. Many streets in Melbourne (Chapel street is an example) are sloped to the side meaning it's not safe or comfortable using a wheelchair travelling along. Then there are the shops with steps out the front. Changing places is a huge issue as well it's really hard to go out for the day. People with disability want to live spontaneous and impulsive lives - lack of access means a boring life locked up at home and it really just sucks and is so unfair! If we switch our thinking and look at our environment around as the thing with the problem, we can fix it, and thereby the disability of the person dissolves away - suddenly they are empowered, able and equal.
* I remember first moving to Melbourne 12 years ago and being in a wheelchair for the first time. I left Sydney because it was too hilly and discovered since I had left that Melbourne had grown a few hills as well. Buses were a great discovery, far better than trams and trains to get around. I gave up on on taxis which wouldn't pick me and my wheelchair up if it was raining, so I got my license and a hand drive car. Back then you'd often wait for 5 or 6 trams before one that was accessible, doesn't sound much better now. I'd often ask other passengers to lower me off the tram if there wasn't an accessible stop which was most of them. Knowing in advance where all the accessible toilets are. Good disable parking patrolled to keep out non permit holders (and I've been dinged for having an out of date permit). Cafes with counter service only. Many building including the one I worked in without proper wheelchair access. Last minute train changes on the Melbourne Loop. Going to galleries when there are few people so you are not just looking at a sea of bums around paintings. Places like the MCG have good seating for wheelchair users but the car park paddocks isn't great on a wet day. But it was mostly okay if you plan ahead, are going somewhere you have been before and have plenty of time and patience. These days I live in the country so most trips are by car anyway and there are no footpaths where I live, just a dirt road. Having a mobility scooter and an NDIS funded support worker once a week helps a lot. I think a lot of disabled people would find navigating the City much easier with a support worked present, even if it was someone they could just contract for a fixed period while they were there. Finally: Melbourne's famous bluestone paving is a nightmare to wheel across on footpaths but local people wanted it kept and complained if the council levelled it on the footpath to make the streets accessible. My motto: "People before Paving".
* Yes, the issue with PT is ongoing! My son sometimes uses the bus to get home after school and he actually has to wait for all his peers to catch the first one as he can't fit on, and it's too much of a rush, crowded. So there he is, in his wheelchair sitting for another 20 - 25 mins after the first one is gone; because he uses a wheelchair. Can you imagine if we treated people like this based on race or gender? But with disability, the justification is it's not practical, so that makes it okay. Only it's not.
* Excellent article. Thanks for raising awareness about access and inclusion. I have only been in a wheelchair recently and I have been amazed by how difficult it is to access places I was previously able to.
* Metro stations may be accessible but they are not all compliant. South Yarra ramps is one example, far too steep for wheelchair users.
* I’ve long been concerned that Fed Square was a trip hazard for the elderly. Hadn’t thought from the perspective a wheelchair - thanks for raising.

Sat.19.2.22 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'.  Torquay rail link may split estate.  MICHAELA MEADE
ABOUT 70 Armstrong Creek houses will be split by tracks if the highly-anticipated Torquay rail link goes ahead.
Documents reveal the Torquay Transit Corridor (TTC) runs directly through an Armstrong Creek estate.
A 2014 Torquay Rail Link Design Report document outlines the placement of the corridor, which runs through Warralily Estate’s coast precinct, and a 2018 Geelong Line Upgrade update document reveals planning work for land use of the area.
Public transport through the Geelong-Torquay transit corridor is one of G2l’s priority projects, with the lobby group calling for $130m in government funding to deliver connections to the rapidly-growing Armstrong Creek and Surf Coast.
Newland Developers sales and marketing manager Sally Steinkrug said the company had told all initial land buyers near the corridor about the potential development. However, there was no requirement for individual sellers to disclose the transit corridor plans dur ing subsequent sales of affected properties.
About 70 houses sit directly adjacent to the TTC.
“Residents in the vicinity were advised that the land had been designated a future transit corridor during the land sales process,” she said.
Ms Steinkrug said the precinct structure plan allowed Newland Developers to establish the amenities “to either side of the corridor”. She said future use of the corridor may include rail, trackless tram or another mode of transport.
“We have not had communication from the Department of Transport or any government authority on the proposed use or timing,” Ms Steinkrug said.
A spokesman said Department of Transport was considering options to link the growing Armstrong Creek community.

Sat.19.2.22 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'.  Letters
* GREAT article, Ashleigh Vandenberg (Opinion, 17/2). There are communities in the suburbs and regional Vic who appreciate not having to commute, and savvy businesses should take advantage of decentralising in this digital age.

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