An independent advisory council chaired by retired District Court Judge Michael Forde has been established to advise the Queensland Government on accessibility for transport and road projects across the state.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the group would give a stronger voice to people with vision, hearing, physical or cognitive impairments as well as older people, parents and youth justice groups.
Minister Bailey joined Mr Forde as well as Spinal Life Chief Advisor – Government John Mayo at Yeronga station, where construction on a full upgrade will commence in coming weeks, to make the announcement.
“As part of Queensland’s economic recovery plan, the Palaszczuk Government is investing an additional $136 million for accessibility upgrades at Bundamba, Burpengary, Banyo and Wooloowin train stations which will include full platform raising, setting a new standard for all future station upgrades to be delivered by Queensland Rail,” Mr Bailey said.
“This new funding means we’re now investing close to $500 million to make our stations across the south east more accessible, but we know more can be done.
“The existing approach to accessibility on road and transport upgrades has been piecemeal, and this new independent body will provide frank and expert advice on how we can make our record $23 billion pipeline of road and transport projects accessible for all Queenslanders.
“The establishment of the Queensland Accessible Transport Advisory Council (QATAC) will provide disability-sector representatives with an unprecedented opportunity for early and authentic consultation on all major transport projects.
“Unfortunately, with procurement of New Generation Rollingstock under the Newman Government, we have all seen firsthand what is inflicted on Queenslanders when there isn’t early consultation with the disability sector or sufficient consideration of disability standards.
“We won’t let that happen again.
“Mr Forde is well placed to chair the council with his 20 years’ experience as a barrister, 14 years with the District Court and experience as Commissioner of the NGR inquiry.
“The appointment of Mr Forde demonstrates the importance the Palaszczuk Government places on the council’s role, with the council to provide advice directly to the responsible Minister, as well the Director-General of Transport and Main Roads, and CEO of Queensland Rail.”
With the council now established and inaugural Chair appointed, an expression of interest process for membership has been launched and will run to mid-November.
Mr Bailey encouraged representatives from across various groups and subject matter experts to apply online.
Mr Forde said the announcement of the accessibility council is the first step in ensuring persons with a disability will have the opportunity to be represented in a formal capacity for future infrastructure in Queensland.
“This will be a template for all transport infrastructure, requiring the council be formally consulted before the finalisations of any plans. This will apply to all forms of transport,” Mr Forde said.
Mr Mayo said Spinal Life welcomed the government’s vision for accessible transport in Queensland, which began with the establishment of an Accessible Transport Networks team to explore the challenges faced by people with a disability.
“Given the major infrastructure projects that have commenced in Queensland or are in the planning stages, it’s valuable that this advisory council will be able to support the Queensland Government to provide accessible, inclusive outcomes that are informed by first-hand experiences,” Mr Mayo said.
Mr Bailey said making transport accessible was crucial so all Queenslanders can access vital services, appointments, work and school.
“That’s why we have established QATAC and why we are investing $500 million to improve accessibility at stations – raising platforms, installing new footbridges with lifts and providing new accessible parking,” Mr Bailey said.
Station upgrades are currently underway at Fairfield, Dakabin, Auchenflower and Cannon Hill stations, with upgrades recently completed at Morayfield, Strathpine and Boondall stations and four new underground stations, eight new and upgraded surface stations in Brisbane and three new stations on the Gold Coast to be delivered with Cross River Rail.
“This investment also adds to the Palaszczuk Government’s $335 million investment to rectify NGR trains in Maryborough with Queensland workers.
“Queenslanders have been managing the health impacts of COVID-19, and because of their work the Palaszczuk Government has been able to get on with creating jobs and working with the community to deliver more accessible roads and transport as part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.”