Inclusion and Diversity, Operations & Maintenance, Passenger Rail, Safety, Social Governance, Workforce

Sunflower shines for Keolis Downer Adelaide

Keolis Downer sunflower

The operator of Adelaide Metro Train Services, Keolis Downer Adelaide (KDA), has launched its Sunflower initiative to further support travellers with hidden disabilities.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that close to one in five people in South Australia live with a disability, and while some of those cases involve visible disabilities, many people may live with a hidden condition, or experience both, whether they be neurological, cognitive, auditory or include sensory and processing difficulties. They can also be respiratory or chronic health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, chronic pain and sleep disorders.

KDA customer experience head Candice Quigley said as diverse as these conditions are, the operator recognised that each customer is unique, and its aim was to break down barriers to ensure that it provided an exemplary service tailored to each individual’s needs.

The initiative involvers customers wearing  Sunflower identification to discreetly signify their need for some additional support and understanding on transport, or in other public spaces.

Transport for NSW recently began using a similar initiative.

“The KDA customer experience team is proud to engage in the globally recognised Sunflower program to provide a helping hand for our customers living with non-visible disabilities to more confidently and comfortably navigate our local network,” Quigley said.

KDA customer experience staff have undertaken three online training modules aimed at providing a better understanding of what a hidden disability is, how to identify this and provide them with tools and strategies to effectively assist a person needing help.

Sandee Facy from Hidden Disabilities Sunflower ANZ said the Sunflower was a subtle but powerful communication tool to support staff and passenger engagement.

“Increasing community awareness is vital, as we understand that a substantial number of disabilities may not be immediately apparent,” she said.

“People who choose to wear a Hidden Disabilities Sunflower might want support with reading or assistance to plan a journey, for example.”

KDA managing director Robert Tatton-Jones said the operational values of Zero Harm and Think Like a Passenger continue to form the focus of “all we undertake in our daily operations, particularly in areas of frontline employee training, accessibility, and communication, for the benefit of our customers”.

“The Hidden Disability Sunflower Initiative is one of a few we have undertaken as part of our commitment to providing a more inclusive network. Others include human guide training, Auslan training, communication access symbol accreditation and ‘Speak My Language’ programs, all essential for our team to be engaged in to improve the train passenger experience here in Adelaide.”

KDA staff who can assist will wear a hidden disabilities ‘I Support’ sunflower lapel pin (white with a Sunflower)  to identify themselves. Passengers are also able to identify that they may need extra support in a number of ways, such as wearing a hidden disabilities lanyard, pin or wristband.

About the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower  

 The Sunflower is a simple tool for commuters to voluntarily share that they have a disability or condition that may not be immediately apparent – and that they may need a helping hand, understanding, or more time in shops, at work, on transport, or in public spaces. For more information visit: https://hiddendisabilitiesshop.com.au/