As V/Line investigates the treatment of a blind customer, disability advocate Martin Butcher has stressed the importance of appropriate training for staff across all public service sectors.
A passenger on the Sunday 6.02pm Albury service lodged a complaint with V/Line online, stating she was “absolutely disgusted” by the treatment of the man.
“The V/Line staff member repeatedly ignored a blind man who asked assistance to the toilet … the staff member was rude, unhelpful and ignored the blind man who was standing for over an hour and a half waiting for assistance,” the complaint read.
“When the blind man confronted the staff member … they had a loud argument and the staff member was shouting and being condescending and humiliated the blind man in front of us who were in the carriage.”
Mr Butcher, Disability Advocacy and Information Service executive officer, said it was hard to comment as an outsider but called it “disappointing and not surprising”.
“I think it happens a lot more often than people know,” he said.
“From assisting a blind man to the toilet, to carrying someone’s drink from the cafeteria because they can’t, I would have thought that would be the role of a customer service person.”
Mr Butcher said there was a need for better training across many sectors that interact with disabled people.
“I know in the police force, when they go to the academy, they only get about one day’s disability awareness training, yet a lot of what they do is working with people with a disability,” he said.
“Whether it be trains, or at the airport, if you are employed in customer services you need to be able to assist people on a range of levels.”
V/Line spokeswoman Catalina Filip said a full investigation into the incident was being conducted.
“It's disappointing to hear what’s alleged to have occurred as we are committed to ensuring all customers can travel with ease and confidence,” she said.
V/Line’s 550 front-line staff have completed disability awareness training to help them assist all customers since 2012 and use communication aid tools developed with Scope Australia.