Lift outages highlight accessibility issues for disabled students

The persistent breakdown of vital lifts at the Kelvin Grove campus has left disabled students stranded and disappointed with our university. 

During the month of April, both lifts that exit out to the main level of campus, near the library and Gather Cafe, have been out of service on at least three occasions.  

This leaves students forced to climb the 81 steps, or to navigate through S Block, travel up the level three and then cross over the E Block and catch the lift of level two.  

During the most recent breakdown on April 19, several people were stuck in the lifts for at least 30 minutes, until a lift technician arrived onsite. During this time there were no signs to indicate the lifts were out of service.  

Disability Officer Ethan Johnstone believes more information should be provided to students when the lifts are broken down, and security should be made aware of the outages and any alternate routes.  

“I understand that at times they need to be taken offline for routine maintenance, however information needs to be provided to students ahead of time of the closures and signage needs to be put up informing students of the alternate accessible routes that are available.  

“This is really the bare minimum for accessibility.” 

He expressed frustration at the current state of affairs, and said it gives the impression that the University does not consider the accessibility needs of disabled students. 

“Kelvin Grove [campus] is in need of some serious renovation and maintenance; it is ridiculous that we have entire multi-storey and multi-winged buildings which become inaccessible when the only elevator in the building inevitably breaks down or is sequestered for maintenance.”   

A spokesperson from QUT said that outages are repaired as soon as possible, and the university have teams on site who monitor the campus lifts to ensure they are operating.

One of the units was out of order for close to six months as it underwent an upgrade to the lift drive mechanism. While this lift has been back in operation for a few weeks, it has continued to be out of service sporadically and continues to make loud, creaking noises when in operation.

When asked whether the University would be willing to notify students of lift break downs and other temporary accessibility issues via social media or a dedicated newsletter, the University said they would be willing to consider this “for outages of more than 24 hours, via a campus notification”.

In addition, they also said they would consider posting signs at the relevant sites to alert students of the break down and to provide information on alternative routes, but it would “only be viable if it was an extended outage”.

Disability Collective Convenor Michael Pendergast said while there are alternative accessible routes available, they are convoluted and not well known by many students, and an outage of any lift on campus poses a significant accessibility issue for disabled students.

“Three outages of these specific lifts in the past couple of weeks is too many. It shouldn’t be up to chance whether disabled students can access campus or not. We get that outages happen, but disabled students need assurance that the lifts around campus are reliable.”

If you need to report a lift outage, you can contact Student Services on 3138 2000.

Celeste Muller
Celeste Muller

Celeste (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and Editor at Glass Media. She has a Bachelor's degree in Design (Interior Design) and is currently studying Journalism and Economics at QUT.

Articles: 50

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

Crumpler-Bottom Web Banner