Two wheelchair-bound men in Melbourne will be given a personal apology from Westfield after one of the men was forced to crawl through one of its car parks.
Ross and Tony Costa, who suffer from muscular dystrophy, were heading for their car in the Fountain Gate Shopping Centre when they were told the centre’s wheelchairs could not go beyond the centre’s doors.
Tony was carried by his sister, while Ross was forced to crawl to the car.
Ross says he was humiliated.
“I took two steps, and then I fell over and then I crawled in the car,” he said.
“There were people everywhere.”
Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke says she is appalled the security of the wheelchair was regarded more highly than the men’s dignity.
“There’s an ongoing need to make sure that there’s information out there about what the responsibilities are of people who provide services, whether it’s a big shopping centre, whether it’s a restaurant, whether it’s a local government entity,” she said.
Westfield will offer a personal apology to the men and their family for the embarrassment.
It says it will review its equipment guidelines, which it says have been overzealously interpreted.
But Ross says he will never again visit the shopping centre.
“The damage is done already – if they apologise or not, it doesn’t worry me because what ever happened, it happened,and it’s too late,” he said.
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