Metro launches Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program

Metro launches Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program

29 Jun 2023, Ruby MacKinnon

Everyone deserves to feel empowered and supported on Melbourne’s public transport network.

That’s why Metro Trains is proud to be part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network to support passengers with an invisible disability, and make the invisible, visible.

The Sunflower is a globally recognised symbol for invisible disabilities, which can include autism, low vision and blindness, chronic pain conditions, musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis, acquired brain injury, deafness, mental health conditions and dementia.

Some people with invisible disabilities choose to wear the sunflower lanyard to discreetly identify that they may need a little more time, support, or assistance.

Train Driver Evan Whyatt was diagnosed with AuADHD (autism and ADHD) two years ago and often wears his sunflower lanyard when he is out and about on the network.

Evan said that travelling on public transport can be stressful for some people – there can be sensory, interactive, and other challenges to overcome for someone with an invisible disability.

Evan said that he was hugely supportive of Metro joining the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower network.

He says that wearing his lanyard feels like having a “shield” when travelling on public transport.

Metro has recently trained customer service staff to recognise the sunflower symbol and support passengers that may need assistance. Passengers can look out for staff wearing a Sunflower supporter badge, which shows they have completed training.

Evan said that the best way you can assist someone wearing a lanyard is to check if they need assistance and are comfortable to interact with you, as sometimes the interaction itself can be a source of anxiety.

Evan said that listening to what the person is saying, reading the signals they are giving you and being compassionate throughout the interaction are all important.

Metro is distributing free sunflower lanyards, pin badges and wristbands to people that would like them at 12 key stations across the network from Monday 26 June.

Metro’s Chief Operating Officer Aline Frantzen said “At Metro, we are dedicated to helping all passengers, including those with an invisible disability, to ensure everyone feels safe and included on our network.”

Sandee Facy, Hidden Disabilities Sunflower ANZ Director of Business Development Sandee Facy said “We are thrilled to work with Metro to bring the Sunflower to train travellers across Melbourne and ensure that public transport is accessible and inclusive for all.”

Metro Trains Driver Evan Whyatt said "I want others with hidden disabilities to feel represented and aware they can possibly achieve the things they want without having to ‘mask’ their disability to others.”
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