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Major Australian charity demands better airline services for people with disabilities

written by Newsdesk | March 14, 2024

Major Australian charity demands better airline services for people with disabilities

Life Without Barriers, one of Australia’s largest providers of disability services, has issued a strong call to action for improvement in the nation’s aviation standards, emphasizing the need for greater respect and support for people with disabilities within the Australian airline industry. This call follows an incident involving Emma Bennison, the organisation’s Chief Innovation Officer and a person who is blind, who was left unassisted at an airport for over an hour and a half by Jetstar staff.

Emma Bennison highlighted the broader issue of negligence by Australian airlines towards people with disabilities, stating, “To be left alone, with no way to contact staff for nearly 90mins shows the blatant disregard airlines have for me as a person with a disability. It was stressful and humiliating.” She further voiced her frustration over the lack of a meaningful response to her complaint and the disrespect shown by the incorrect use of her name. Bennison has since lodged a complaint of disability discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission in a bid to seek justice and force airlines to adhere to their obligations of upholding human rights for people with disabilities.

Mark Leigh, Chief Operating Officer of Life Without Barriers, also expressed his concern, highlighting that the issue transcends individual experiences and impacts workplace safety standards. “Every employee has the right to safety when they travel, people with disability who may require support should not be treated as second-class citizens by any Australian airline,” Leigh stated. He further criticized the aviation industry for its failure to provide timely and appropriate assistance, describing the lack of support as inexcusable.

Life Without Barriers is demanding a comprehensive response from the aviation industry, including an apology from Jetstar, a review and improvement of the airline’s “Special Assistance” policy, the establishment of a dedicated contact number for customers with disabilities, and compensation for the affected individuals. Furthermore, the organisation is urging the Federal Government to step in and enact stricter regulations surrounding accessibility and support for people with disabilities across all Australian airlines, in a bid to ensure safer, more dignified, and unrestricted travel for everyone.


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