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Court Decision on Jetstar’s Two-Wheelchair Policy a Major Blow - Disability Group

17 January 2012 at 10:58 am
Staff Reporter
People with Disability Australia (PWD) is calling for changes to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws following the recent Federal Court’s decision, which it says has left Jetstar’s discriminatory two wheelchair policy intact.

Staff Reporter | 17 January 2012 at 10:58 am


Court Decision on Jetstar’s Two-Wheelchair Policy a Major Blow - Disability Group
17 January 2012 at 10:58 am
Flickr image AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by tripletrouble 

People with Disability Australia (PWD) is calling for changes to Australia’s anti-discrimination laws following the recent Federal Court’s decision, which it says has left Jetstar’s discriminatory two wheelchair policy intact.

PWD says Sheila King, a passenger with disability, who took the court action has been left with $20,000 to pay in court costs.

In 2008, Jetstar stopped King, who uses a wheelchair, from accessing a flight because the flight already had two passengers that required wheelchair assistance. King told the court she was forced to rebook on another airline at greater cost as there were no other Jetstar flights to her destination.

The Federal Court decision accepted that Jetstar had discriminated against King, but ruled that Jetstar would have experienced ‘unjustifiable hardship’ if it had not discriminated against her.

“This decision is a major blow against the rights of people with disability. PWD has fully supported Sheila King’s action from the start and eagerly awaited an outcome that would end Jetstar’s second class treatment of people with disability,” the Executive Director of PWD, Therese Sands said.

“The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) places a strong onus on individuals with disability to make discrimination complaints to achieve systemic change. However, it is unacceptable that individuals with disability must also carry the risks if a DDA complaint goes to Court,” Sands said.

“For Ms King this means that she must bear the costs of Jetstar’s discriminatory treatment and accept that a major budget airline can retain a policy that is unjust to people with disability.”

“The current Australian Government process for reform of anti-discrimination laws must include finding mechanisms to achieve systemic change without the need for individuals with disability to bear the responsibility for this change,” Sands said.

PWD says it commends Sheila King for her long battle with Jetstar, a battle which was not for personal gain, but to achieve a change in Jetstar policy for the benefit of all passengers who use wheelchairs.

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  • Anonymous says:

    This is really disappointing. I accept that all the facts are probably not clear in this article but in all seriousness, this person should have been a priority ahead of other passengers, similar to the way parking and other services are treated for those already suffering from a disability.

    I find it difficult to accept that Jetstar would have suffered ‘unjustifiable hardship’ AKA a ‘delay’ as a result of helping this passenger board.

    Instead they have a justifiably ticked off customer and a great deal of bad press.

    Sydney train stations are just as much a disgrace in this space. How do we live in the 21st century without wheelchair access in all Sydney train stations??!

  • Anonymous says:

    You keep going Sweetheart – what a crock of shit! I was a Flight Attendant for many years, with as low a cost airline (ie employer) as was available at the time. We regularly had several wheelchair pax on any given flight and considered looking after them was part of our service. Just as was providing special meals, looking after unaccompanied minors, babies etc.

    On one memorable occasion out of Darwin, we had about 30 German wheelchair pax on board – although they travelled with a variety of carers, all the crew stayed behind for a great deal of time after the other pax had disembarked, while the carers and we assisted their disembarkation.

    It’s what we were paid to do, and we did it with pleasure – what a lesson in humility and gratitude for our happy lives to see so many young people consigned to such a life. I chatted to one young man who had been in a motorbike accident, and said how lucky he was to still be able to travel. He looked me straight in the eye and said in a thick German accent, “It’s a shit life”.

    A limit of 2 is arbitrary and ridiculous.

    Good luck with your endeavour.

  • Ron says:

    In an emergency evacuation who helps the wheel chair passengers get off and down slides etc

    More than two such passengers would probably require more flight attendants as the airline only rosters the minimum number of flight attendands to meet the CAA requirements for emergency evacuation. Low cost airlines cannot afford extra F/A’s and still remain viable

    • Anonymous says:

      How often do these emergency evacuations occur? Phewwft….you are amazing! Because of these ridiculous ‘safety’ regulations, it is ok for people using wheelchairs to experience injury and damage to person and wheelchair. You know if they let us travel in our wheelchairs then we could disembark ourselves….way more quickly than the current process…..Do u know how frightening it is for a wheelchair passenger to travel? To be removed from their mobility aid that is designed to maximise their health, and then be told you have to be removed from your life source?

  • Yes the planes are not accessible, neither many railway stations, most buses, trams, hotel rooms, restaurants, schools, doctors and dentists and all the rest of them. Its a pathetic story, made worse by the attititudes of so many Australians as we have seen this week.

  • The only real positive in the present Jetstar “thing” is it is putting the whole access issue out there; planes, trains (stations), buses (lack of accessible ones) trams (see buses and trains), hotel rooms, public facilities, restaurants, schools etc, etc, plus the shocking attidtudes of the Australian population and it s leaders.

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