The news yesterday that a lift will be installed at Redfern railway station was a rare piece of good news for a community that has campaigned long and hard for this investment, which is essential to providing equity of access to this important transport hub.
The news comes just under a year after our state politicians disappointed the people of Redfern with their underwhelming response to the issue and almost a year and a half after I had the honour of launching the Lift Redfern campaign with federal disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innis.
While any progress on providing access to the station, which is used by over 50 000 people per day but can currently only be reached via steep staircases and escalators, is appreciated this week’s announcement is mostly only an interim measure as the transport minister has stated that a lift will be provided to only one platform at this stage. Hopefully yesterday’s announcement will shortly be followed by a timeline for the implementation of the single lift in the short term and a longer term plan to install access facilities across all the station’s platforms.
While the announcement is currently only small scale and awaiting a defined timeline the fact that anything is happening at all represents a significant victory for the community. The Lift Redfern campaign has seen dozens of community volunteers invest hundreds of hours into collecting thousands of signatures and highlighting the importance of this upgrade.
I was thus surprised by the fact that the transport minister’s press release announcing the investment didn’t mention this community involvement and instead singled out Liberal Councillor Christine Forster as a strong advocate for the project. While all relevant parties have provided varying measures of support for the campaign I’m not aware of Christine Forster personally having any involvement – I’ve never seen her at a meeting or an action of the campaign group and never heard her say anything publicly on the matter. Most of the hard work of the campaign was done and dusted by the time she was elected to Council.
Still, politics aside, this is a victory for the community and everyone genuinely involved should be congratulated. I look forward to this announcement resulting in action on the ground as soon as possible.