My vote counts. Make election polling voting centres wheelchair accessible.
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My name is Grant. I’m passionate about footy, democracy, and accessibility. Living with a Disability and chronic pain for 28 years has meant I've had my fair share of challenges to overcome in the search for access and equality. Thankfully, keeping fit by playing Wheelchair AFL for the Richmond Tigers often helps me develop somewhat unorthodox solutions to everyday problems.
However, in preparation of the upcoming state election, I looked for the closest Independent Wheelchair Access voting centre I could push my way too... problem is, there wasn't one. So I dug further outside my district of Richmond, only to discover, there wasn't one in the Melbourne electorate either. In fact, the closest listed Independent Wheelchair Access centre according to VEC was in Docklands: a 45 minute, 2 tram and 600 metre push away.
After a look into the surrounding districts, I discovered that the majority of voting centres are LNWA: Limited or No Wheelchair Access. All but a handful of centres were off limits to people living with a disability, and those that were listed as accessible came with the disclaimer that they are AWA (Assisted Wheelchair Access). This means they have corridors too narrow to navigate independently, ramps built that may restrict wheelchair access, or have paths from the car park or street to the building entrance that are inaccessible for wheelchair users, the list goes on.
To make matters even worse, the VEC call centre could only suggest postal voting as a solution. Contact from my local member and council also ran into issues with solutions involving a limited number of accessible early voting centres or postal votes as they too were stumped by the inaccessible nature of Victoria's voting centres.
For the VEC (Victorian Electoral Commission), an organisation that's purpose is to “deliver high quality, accessible electoral services with innovation, integrity and independence." to overlook such an important aspect of independence is unacceptable.
That’s why I’m calling on to the VEC and local electorates to change this severe oversight in the following ways:
- To ensure EVERY future electoral division includes at least 1 independent wheelchair accessible voting centre.
- For local councils to publicise and ensure accessible centres are promoted and included in future communications so that every vote really does "help shape Victoria”
People with Disabilities have a place in our democratic process. We want to fully participate in democracy, without any barriers. We want to turn up to a nearby polling booth on election day, grab a democracy sausage, and vote just like everyone else.
Can you help me send a message this Victorian state election? Please sign and share this petition, and let the Victorian Electoral Commission know that People with Disabilities have a place in our democratic process.
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Grant Maynard needs your help with “My vote counts. Make election polling voting centres wheelchair accessible.”. Join Grant and 23,346 supporters today.