November 11th, 2021Just sayin’…
WENT to a function the other day. It was pretty exciting. I even washed my hair. It’s not that hard once you get around to it.
Anyway, it doesn’t really matter where and what, but I arrived to find a bloke in a wheelchair stuck at the entrance to the function. In front of him was a step. Quite a big step. So he was stuck. As in, he couldn’t join the party.
Someone had already asked the venue if they had a wheelchair ramp and the answer was no. So another guest and I brainstormed a bit and I called the Daylesford Regional Visitor Information Centre. Someone thought they had a few ramps there and it would have been pretty easy to go and pick it up. No go. They do have one but it was rented out already. Rented? Do you really make money on wheelchair ramps? Hmmm. (Need to check this one. See below.)
So then I called Springs Medical Centre but the person who answered the phone said they were disability compliant with fixed accesses. Makes sense. Next I called Hepburn Shire Council and listened to the options. I pushed 3 for aged and disability services. No go again. The person who answered said they had nothing available and I should try Central Highlands Rural Health.
By this stage the bloke was pretty over the whole affair and said he would just go home which seemed pretty sad. He had, after all, made a real effort, more than anyone else when you think about it, to be there. And if we don’t have wheelchair access in 2021 something is wrong with the system. He ended up staying, in the corner, by the big step, and sort of watched proceedings until the rain started. You see, the bit with the step was outside, in the rain. You may remember the torrential downpour early last week. Yep, that rain.
I don’t know the answer but I do have another story. In the 80s I lived in Japan and worked as an English teacher at a junior high school. So think Year 7, 8 and 9 or if you are really elderly, like me, Form 1, 2 and 3.
The school was three storeys if you count the ground floor as the first storey. So maybe it was two storeys and a ground floor. Doesn’t matter. The youngest students had the first or ground floor, the next youngest had the next floor and the oldest had the top floor.
Anyway, one of the kids in Year 9 or Form 3 was in a wheelchair and every morning his classmates carried him in his chair up to the third floor of the school. (No lifts or ramps.) And there he stayed until the end of the day when they carried him back down again. No outside play, no taking part in sports, just spent the entire day on the third floor.
I talked to one of the other teachers about this and said it seemed a little unfair. He disagreed, feeling the student was lucky to be at school, and then added that Japan was lucky because they had very few people in wheelchairs. I tried to explain that maybe there were very few people in wheelchairs who were out and about, more likely stuck in their homes, like that kid was stuck on the third floor.
Just like that bloke was stuck in the corner in front of that step. Surely in 2021 we can do better? Just sayin’…
OK, a bit of checking done. Thanks to Hepburn Shire Council for providing this information.
Daylesford Visitor Information Centre has two ramps, a metal ramp and a heavy duty rubber wedge. You do hire them but they are free of charge. You just have to fill out a form.
On another note, did you know there is just one wheelchair access toilet in the Daylesford CBD – also at the Daylesford visitor centre. There is another but it is at the Duke Street council offices, so only open during office hours and maybe not during Covid.
And we all know until The Rex is completed in 2030 (joking) that the only public toilets are also up at the info centre. I have been stopped numerous times while outside Coles – I must look approachable – by people looking for toilets. One was a very pregnant woman, one was a woman with a child clearly needing to go and another was an older woman with a walking stick. Their faces fell as I told them the only public toilet was a good five-minute walk, uphill.
With The Rex a way off maybe it’s time for council to provide another toilet or two somewhere in the CBD area. Festivals seem to manage portable toilets, as do building sites, so it doesn’t seem too far out of the realm of possibility. Perhaps they could get friendly with Coles and open up those down that little laneway? Pay for the cleaning etc. Once again, I don’t know the answer, but with Melbourne out and about again, someone is going to get caught short.