Friday, 24 November 2017

Access All Areas: Petition Power (Part 1)

South Australian suburban electric passenger train; 4000 class  (no. 4003 entered service circa 2014) ) at a railway station platform. The train has silver sides with a red roof and red ends. Waiting passengers can be seen at the left of the picture.
AdelaideMetro rail car
It may not be a hyperspace bypass, but it is threatening the independence and access to transport for many people in my local community:   an extension of my local railway line (which is a good thing) but, in the process, my local railway station will be permanently removed (a devastating outcome).

International Access Symbol (white wheelchair symbol on a blue background) created with crochet by Jodiebodie using a freeform technique to create the shapes and finished with a white crab stitch border.
International symbol for disability
 in crochet
You may remember this was mentioned in a previous blog post "Battling Bureaucracy" (3 Nov. 2017) and today I have news of developments in my fight to maintain access and equity for people in my neighbourhood, especially for people with disabilities for whom the station will be a huge loss and profoundly affect lives.

I could go on and on because I am so passionate about this issue (and it affects me and my family personally) and I am also very angry about the current situation because there was no public consultation whatsoever at the design stage of the extension project. 

My frustration has led to an online petition at the recommendation of one of South Australia's parliamentarians.*  I have commenced a paper petition too for people who are not online and who prefer to have a paper document.
The link to the online petition on

You can also do a search for "Save Tonsley Station".
I have also set up an email address specifically for correspondence about this issue:  

The petition site has a section to 'start a conversation' where you can share your comments and read people's reasons for signing. It is interesting to read the experiences of others who are backing up this cause.

I started using the hashtag #savetonsleystation on Twitter.  It is fascinating that I have been using this hashtag for a few weeks now when responding to posts by the State Government and those responses seem to have disappeared, leaving only my own tweets surviving.

There are many details on the petition site, including links and references to important documents and contacts.  If you are not in Australia and would like to sign, it would be good to add a reason for your signature; e.g., we need equity for people with disabilities and vulnerable communities; we need accessible public transport for all; removing access to rail transport is retrograde, etc.  
I want our politicians to know that human rights and equity for people with disabilities are vote-changers.  Proof of that is that South Australia had an entire party devoted to disability issues and their representative got voted into our State Parliament.

It is so crazy to think that this rail line is being developed to serve the "Tonsley Innovation Precinct" but there is nothing innovative about taking away people's access to the wider community!  It appears to me to be a rail project to serve the rich whilst ignoring the poor locals for whom the Tonsley station is vital.

The people in the local neighbourhood will have a railway line running straight through their suburb which will be useless to them if they cannot get to a station. 

If the people who commissioned the design work had done their homework, they would have realised that my suburb has a high level of public housing, low income households, and a greater than average concentration of people with disabilities, many of whom are wheelchair users who rely on the public transport train as their only affordable mode of independent travel.

What about the bus?

The bus is not an option for me. Even though Adelaide Metro has many busses designed to be 'wheelchair accessible', not all wheelchairs fit, and the sudden and often jerky motions of the bus can make it dangerous for passengers in wheelchairs. Compare trains and trams which offer a much smoother, predictable ride.   I totally rely on the train to go to the football and get around my city to appointments etc.  My children use the train to get to school, university and their jobs. 

Catch a taxi?

Adelaide has Access Taxis to provide transport for wheelchair users but there are not enough of them. If you want to travel anywhere around school drop-off and pick-up time, good luck, as most of the taxis are pre-booked.  In my past experience, Access Taxis have been notorious for not turning up on time, if at all. 

The government has taken steps to create equity for people with disabilities by subsidising taxi travel with a voucher scheme, but even with vouchers, taxi fares are expensive and prohibitive. The costs limit a person's travel. Surely a cheap train ticket purchased by a wheelchair user is saving the government money on expensive vouchers. It seems a false economy to remove access to the train where access already exists.

I also don't like the vulnerable one-to-one position Access Taxis put me in as a passenger with a disability in a private vehicle.  Despite cameras etc. there is nothing to stop a devious driver from  abusing a passenger.  

There have been dreadful cases in my state of children being systematically abused by their school bus driver over a period of time and he got away with a lot of it for a long time because the children had disabilities and were non-verbal or didn't have the vocabulary to tell anyone what happened to them. That did not occur in an Access Taxi but it highlights the vulnerability a disability can cause. It will always remain in the back of my mind when travelling.

Many single travellers feel a similar vulnerability in regular taxis. On public transport, it is totally public, so one is less vulnerable to abuse when there are many other people around, or I would like to think so. 

Trains for social inclusion

The other benefit of public transport is that it supports a human need to have a sense of belonging; e.g.,  one of the things I enjoyed the most about going to work was that sense of having a place in society at large. It is good for self-esteem.

Coincidentally, the day after I began my petition, the ABC Radio News national current affairs program "AM" had a three-minute segment about the difficulties wheelchair users are having with public transport in Brisbane and why equitable access is important:

The campaign for clarity and communication continues

I have been trying to get some clarity about the whole issue since August 2016 and I am disgusted by the lack of communication from the State Government. This has become URGENT now because the work is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and the local community and important stakeholders haven't even been notified.

I feel it is important to raise as much awareness and collect as many signatures and support as possible before people go away for the holiday season. 

It is a common tactic for political entities to do unpopular things during the holiday season, hoping that people will be preoccupied and not notice, knowing that many media outlets are also on holidays.  Evidence of this on a smaller scale are the 'media releases' about unpopular decisions being published very late on a Friday afternoon... and the political classes wonder why they are losing respect and why the general public are disengaging from the political system! 

Nevertheless it is the only system I have and I have made every effort to engage in my political system. While my rights to free speech have not been stifled, I am going to speak up as loudly as possible and if one political channel is going to be obstructive and evasive, then I will just find another channel, like this petition.

 "If you think you are too small to make a difference,
try sleeping in a room with one tiny mosquito."


*Kelly Vincent MLC of the Dignity party, formerly known as  'Dignity for the Disabled' or 'D4D'.

References petition, "Save Tonsley Station! Save our access to public transport!", 22 November 2017:
Contact details for local parliamentarians and links to relevant documents can be found at the end of the petition's description. Comments and discussion are welcome on the petition web site.Email:
Twitter: #savetonsleystation 

Haxton, Nance, "Concern public transport overlooked in Queensland election", audio [3'02"], 23 November 2017, broadcast 8:20 a.m., ABC Radio News and Current Affairs, Australia:

Tonsley Innovation Precinct:
Vincent, Kelly, MLC, Dignity Party:

Related Posts on Lupey Loops

"Battling Bureaucracy", 3 November 2017: 

"Training the Transport Department", 10 April 2015:



  1. Jodie, I so hope that the government hears your plea. It is so important for all people to have access to transportation and access to everything. I applaud you for all you are doing to keep your independence and the independence of others. You are the best!

    1. I know they are hearing me but they are not doing anything to uphold the rights of people with disabilities to have equitable access to transport. They are knowingly making life more difficult for a population that is already vulnerable and isolated.

      Ironically, the State Government claims that it has Seven Strategic Priorities and the removal of my local station (by the rail extension project called Flinders Link) contradicts four of those priorities:
      * Safe Communities Healthy Neighbourhoods: Keeping our communities safe and our citizens healthy
      * An affordable place to live: keeping our high quality of life affordable for everyone
      * Every chance for every child: giving our children every chance to achieve their potential in life
      * Creating a vibrant city that energises and excites
      Source(accessed 25 Nov 2017):

  2. I like your activism and for such a good cause. Do you have a pattern for crocheted symbol? Could you get folks to make them, like in a hat? And everyone go to your government buildings wearing them?

    1. Haha! That's a fun idea, Sandy. :-)

      Were you inspired by the Pussyhat movement? A bunch of people wearing blue hats might make a good photo in the paper but with the urgency of my current campaign, I need to spend my time communicating with people which leaves little time for crocheting but if you and others want to support the campaign in your own way, go for it - after signing the petition, of course! ;-)

      The crocheted symbol is a freeform creation so there is no published pattern for it (yet). I have a rough diagram somewhere but the pattern needs refining. I can try to dig it up if you are interested in having a go. Let me know!

      While rallies and stunts can be popular, let me explain why this may not be an effective or easy strategy for people with disabilities:

      Many people with disabilities struggle physically in their basic activities without the added strain of physically having to craft something to a deadline and travel somewhere. For many, getting out of bed, showering and dressing can be complicated, time consuming and physically taxing, let alone organising travel. Many people have to rely on others to help them and coordinating support rosters and staff is enough of a burden on one's energy and private life without having to try and arrange help to attend a rally. Funding for disability support is extremely short in my country at the moment so people need to save their support funding for necessary tasks like shopping, cooking and personal care and can't afford to 'waste' it on optional activities.

      I'm not saying protests are a bad idea - they can be very effective - but perhaps I will leave that form of activism for those with the capacity to do it. Right now, I am personally struggling to attend to my petition every day and pushing my physical limits. I am that desperate to hold on to my independence!

      You can read more about my crocheted symbol in a post called "Access All Areas: International Access Symbol" (14 November 2014):

  3. Well the train is the only available mode of transport for me as I need to take my tricycle and I can't put that on a bus. I am not eligible for taxi vouchers either - even if I could afford them!

    1. Thanks so much for the points you made, Cat. You have reminded me about the gaps in the voucher system and reasons to develop our rail services, not reduce them.
      Trains are so essential and many people prefer the train to the bus for all sorts of reasons - room to move with tricycles, bicycles, prams, trolleys, walkets etc. is not there on buses and trams. Proof of this is weekends when there is no local train service. Even though there is a weekend bus, there are plenty of people travelling by private car across the suburb to the other rail line to catch a train. Trains are just easier and better for people!

  4. Your activism is so on point, well spoken, and calm. They HAVE to listen, right?

    I can't sign a petition from across the waters cause I don't think they care what I think, but I have your back in every other way!

    You go girl!

    1. Thank you for your compliments. I received similar feedback from one of my local Councillors who judged that my emails "made sense, were coherent and suitable to raise" at future meetings. They had better be raised because it is a Councillor's job to represent their residents. I must admit that I was not calm towards a State Government "Engagement Officer" who has not engaged the community at all (not even signage at the station about the scheduled closure) and then has the gall to say to my face, "There's nothing we can do to change the design," which exasperated me. After all, if that is the case, what is the point of obtaining the feedback of the community if it isn't going to make a difference anyway? That is just patronising tokenism, to tick a box to say 'yes, we did the engagement process per policy' and wasting everybody's time. The engagement and consultation process needs to be done at the beginning to let people have a say and input on the design that is going to affect their neighbourhood and future amenity.

      So, the terrier in me is beginning to show!

  5. Very well done, Jodie, fighting the good fight. I hope you succeed.

    1. Thank you, Amalia. Me and the whole neighbourhood are hoping too. Those locals and commuters who didn't know were very shocked and puzzled as to why the station was going. It doesn't make sense to anyone who believes in encouraging more people to use public transport.