Better access demanded
By CHERIE ADDENBROOKE firstname.lastname@example.org AALDRIK ARNOLDUS has never been inside the Star Court Theatre in Lismore.
The only time he tried in early February, he was turned away because of the absence of access facilities for people with disabilities. "I assumed access to public functions was available even if by back doors." he said.
But it was not the case. Instead, he was told 'sorry' and that was it.
"I just think any public venue should be available to the public, not just a proportion of it."
In protest, Aaldrik, who is a quadriplegic, has started a campaign to highlight the problem he faces on a daily basis. He has particular concerns about Casino, where he lives.
"In general, Casino offers very little help for the disabled," said Aaldrik. "Around 80 per cent of stores have a step at the front entrance and the entertainment venues provide little or no help.
"Have a look at the Casino information centre. The ramp is there, but the door opens out and staff on the desk can't see, so I can't push the door in.
"I refuse to yell out so I just have to wait until I am spotted."
"When I see places like Janelle Saffin's office upstairs I am not too happy. Unless she is saying 'cripples stay out'?"
Ultimately Aaldrik would like to see public venues made fully accessible to all, as is required by State and Federal governments.
"One step made accessible is not a huge cost," he said.
Aaldrik has been confined to a wheelchair for 27 years and has done his fair share of fighting to change the accessibility situation for the disabled.
"I was on the NSW Access Committee for a while," he said.
He uses a computer to speak and says he tries not to 'let too much stop me'.
When Aaldrik was 38 he had a brain stem infarct (usually fatal) which landed him in a wheelchair.
Fourteen years later he was run over by a car and dragged for 15 metres, which left him a quadriplegic.
He recalls how after the accident: "Doctors said I'd be a dribbling idiot in two years. And I hardly dribble!
"My family have been told I will die soon - three or four times - but they forgot to tell me!"
Despite his hardships Aaldrik remains humble and in good spirits, an inspiration to all.
"No point being down as no one gives a stuff. "I don't know if anything will improve, but only a noisy hinge gets heard," he said.