Taken for a ride: Vision Australia calls out inequality in Western Australia's taxi subsidy

23 February 2021

Western Australians deserve the same access to subsidised transport as the rest of Australia, but Western Australia is currently well behind other states. With an election looming, Vision Australia is asking for equality for those with blind and low vision, who rely heavily on public transport.

Vision Australia is keen to make sure that people who are blind or have low vision are not forgotten when it comes to state support. While it commends Western Australia’s State Disability Strategy 2020-2030, there is a key area of concern around the Western Australian Taxi User Subsidy Scheme (TUSS).

In Western Australia, people who are blind or have low vision get a subsidy of up to $25 per taxi journey, this is a far cry from subsidies in the eastern states with New South Wales and Victoria providing a subsidy of up to $60 per trip.

“Without an increase to the TUSS subsidy, all Western Australians who are blind or have low vision and are not on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will continue to be unfairly impacted,” Chris Edwards, Vision Australia manager of government relations and advocacy, said.

“This is particularly relevant for people over 65 who often can’t afford to travel outside their local area on the current subsidy rate. At the very least, Western Australians deserve parity with the rest of the country.”

Under the TUSS, people are also not able to apply the subsidy to ridesharing options, which provide an affordable transport option. Western Australians who are blind or have low vision should have equal right of access to the same ridesharing options as the rest of the community have.

“Victoria has recently expanded it taxi subsidy scheme to include Uber. There’s no reason that Western Australia and other jurisdictions can’t follow Victoria’s footsteps and modernise the TUSS to open up ridesharing to the blind and low vision community.”

More can be done across the board

“There are 36,000 people in Western Australia who are blind or have low vision,” Chris said.

“We also need action on providing equal opportunities for employment. Finding and maintaining a job is the most significant challenge facing Western Australians who are blind or have low vision. The unemployment rate for people with disability in Australia is almost double the rate of people without disability and unfortunately blindness and low vision represents the highest level of unemployment across all disability groups.”

 Vision Australia are calling for a range of changes in the employment space, including:

  • Develop a Public Service work experience and graduate program for people who are blind or have low vision
  • Lead the nation in online accessibility and accessible ICT procurement
  • Commit to accessible workplaces
  • Embedding inclusive education

“The next Western Australian Government has to opportunity create inclusion by making a few simple changes to ensure that Western Australians who are blind or have low vision have better access to transport, education and employment outcomes,” Chris said.

“Western Australians who are blind or have low vision deserve the right to be able to travel, learn and work in the same ways as their sighted peers and now is the time to make these changes.”

Further media inquiries: Phil McCarroll, 0416 632 253