Spinal Life member Larry Stumer. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Spinal Life member Larry Stumer. Picture: Cordell Richardson

A chance to create better city for people with a disability

LARRY Stumer has lived in Ipswich all of his life and has spent the past 27 of those in a wheelchair.

The Raceview resident is completely paralysed below his chest and said he had considered moving away from the city he loves as it was just not equipped for someone like him.

Mr Stumer, 62, said there were a lot of problems for local people with spinal issues that had not been addressed for years, particularly access issues to disability parking, taxi ranks, parks and recreational sites.

"They've always been the main issues that restricted us from participating," he said.

"We're going to get a new mall and I want to be able to go there.

"At the moment they're making it too hard for me. That's probably why you don't see a lot of people with spinal cord injuries around the place.

"They need to know they've got a safe space to park and access facilities."

The upcoming election is an opportunity to push for improvements and Ipswich is in an especially

Advocacy organisation Spinal Life Australia held a forum yesterday, with Mr Stumer addressing a number of candidates about the issues he faces everyday.

Mr Stumer wanted to use the chance to educate candidates about the challenges experienced by people with a disability in Ipswich and for them and share how they plan to make improvements wherever possible.

He pointed to access issues at taxi ranks in Booval and the CBD, and the same problems for disability parking outside the Ipswich Courthouse and in the city centre.

In particular, he highlighted problems with the former taxi rank at the top of mall on Brisbane St which is now a loading zone.

Mr Stumer said a taxi driver was fined last month after dropping off a customer outside of the Ipswich Medical Centre on Brisbane St, as he avoided the loading zone in fear of exceeded the two minute limit.

He also said there is no proper drop-off point or footpath access at Booval railway station on the Brisbane bound side.

Mr Stumer said it is one of the most used stations in Ipswich by people with disabilities due to its proximity to supported housing.

Mr Stumer believed these issues were usually overlooked when it came to election time.

"I'm hoping like everybody else in the community," he said.

"I'm hoping this time we've got the people in place to take everything seriously. We're all hoping for change.

"While I've got breath in my body, somebody has got to stop and say, let's talk and see if we can sort a few issues out. Some of the issues are absurd.

"At the moment, Ipswich is definitely not (well equipped for people with spinal injuries)."

He said the issues were exacerbated as he got older.

"With ageing we all get more fatigued and lose strength," he said.

"I don't drive anymore. These days I've steadied down a bit.

"It's very expensive to take taxis."

Spinal Life executive manager for member services Ross Duncan said the election was a "once in a four year opportunity" to push for change.

There are about 1700 members across Queensland.

"Local government gets things done for their local community," he said.