Parliamentary chamber inaccessible to Kelly Vincent

Kelly Vincent and Natasha Stott-Despoja

Image: A smiling Kelly Vincent, Dignity for Disability candidate, with a blue flower in her hair and holding a bouquet of pink roses, sits next to former leader of the Australian Democrats Natasha Stott-Despoja.

I linked a few days ago at FWD to a story about Kelly Vincent, a young woman with cerebral palsy who is contesting the South Australian election in the Upper House. Vincent has taken the place of the original lead candidate for the Dignity 4 Disability party, Paul Collier.

Vincent has likely won an Upper House seat in Parliament! (Antony Green’s blog explains further here and here.)

But there’s a catch. She can’t get in.

In the wake of all the national fanfare about the new Access to Premises standards, Kelly Vincent can’t get to work.

Tory Shepherd reports in the Advertiser:

Parliament House not ready for Kelly

Kelly Vincent is set to win an Upper House seat, but at this stage she physically cannot get there.

While the final results could still be weeks away, the Dignity 4 Disability candidate is the likely winner.

At 21, she will become the youngest female elected to Parliament.

She is also believed to be the first person in a wheelchair, but Parliament House is not yet disability-friendly enough for her to make her way to the chamber.

What is there left to say? Come on, Australia. I know we can do better than this.

Categories: Politics

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7 replies

  1. Goosepimples, as we used to say in Brooklyn, when I was a kid. Hooray Kelly Vincent. It’s about time Parliament House became wheelchair accessible. I’ll tell a short story about the US Congress. In the 1990s, a man who is a triple amputee was elected to the US Senate. He was forced to use his working budget funds to make his office and bathroom wheelchair accessible. I was not online at the time (most abed then due to ME/CFS…I’m online and less abed now), an activist friend with Kentucky ADAPT, did the emailing for me to the architectural oversight office of the building for Congress and confirmed it. It was also true that
    the post office in the building was not wheelchair accessible. And,
    not that long ago, the City Hall of NYC was not wheelchair accessible. Not sure, since it’s too far for me to get there due to ME/CFS.

  2. Go Kelly! Love the “believed to be” the first wheelchair user … if Parliament hasn’t made adaptations for wheelchairs users yet, one would feel pretty safe assuming it’s because no one’s called them on it before.

  3. Parliament House is accessible by wheelchair if you are a VISITOR, but not if you are a staff member who needs to access the chamber, or a pollie.
    They did half the job when they made upgrades a number of years ago and given that one pollie (Lyn Breuer, I think it was) had mobility issues related to her hip replacement a couple of years ago, you think it would have occurred to them that they need to do this as well – and get onto it sharpish.
    This is long overdue; hopefully they’ll do it, regardless of whether or not Kelly ultimately wins a seat.

  4. Oh, and it’s a great photo of Natasha and Kelly, BTW. Love it! :-)

  5. Good for her! And good especially to see someone who seems like they might be a reasonable cross-bencher elected at the fag-end of an upper house count, rather than a fool or a Fielding.
    The sentence refers only to South Australia that hasn’t had a wheelchair user in Parliament before, not Australia: Graham Edwards in the WA and Federal Parliaments used a wheelchair in both buildings in the 1980s-2000s.
    In NSW where I am I don’t think we’ve had a wheelchair user elected yet, though having been inside both chambers I suspect it wouldn’t be too difficult for anyone in a wheelchair to sit with a bit of renovation. The rest of the building’s had substantial accessibility work done in the last 10 years, it’s just the Chambers left.

  6. Yay for Kelly Vincent for leading the way and requiring Parliament to become wheelchair accessible. Building modifications are generally not as difficult as people might assume.


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