PhD student Tash Joyce has arthritis and uses a cane, meaning she cannot access the books she needs for her studies at La Trobe University without extreme difficulty.
- Bendigo student, who lives with a disability, told to take an escort if she wants to access university library
- Library was finished last year as part of $50 million campus upgrade
- Student says the design means she has to take stairs and is left in pain for days
An upgrade of Bendigo's Heywood Library was completed at the end of last year as part of $50 million campus works, but the issue of accessibility only came to light after Ms Joyce visited the campus for the first time last week.
"I was actually really excited coming into the library after the upgrades, and that is why the letdown is so big," she said.
Books needed for study and reference are shelved on the second floor of the building, but a newly installed lift only operates to the first floor.
"I realised you then had to walk back into the old library area where all the books still were, that meant still using the old stairs that you used to have to go up every time to get up to the second floor."
The consequences of navigating the stairs for Ms Joyce were both physical and emotional.
"Physically, I was in a lot of pain for three days and had to take medication," she said.
"Emotionally, it was really embarrassing — it's embarrassing I can't get up to these books that I need to see."
Ms Joyce said she was told there were alternatives for accessing the second floor.
La Trobe University Bendigo campus provided a statement to the ABC to address the concerns raised by Ms Joyce.
"The access prior to the new build has not changed. The lift in the student union area enables access to all levels of the library," it said.
"For security reasons, a student ID card is required to use this lift.
'Not good enough'
Graeme Innes, a former disability discrimination commissioner, said the response from the university was not good enough.
"Given there's a requirement to get to a security pass to get to the second floor of a building which no-one else has, I am not sure that meet the standards.
"That places a range of requirements on her, having to get a pass, having to get back into the building and having to get upstairs — what a clunky way to get back into the building."
University looking at changes
The university said the building met all disability access standards.
"Access for everyone to our library facilities is critical, and all levels of the new Bendigo library are accessible by lift," it said.
"The building complies with all disability access standards, and an access consultant was engaged when the new building was being designed."
The Heywood Library is a new building that has been built onto the side of an existing heritage building.
Therefore, to access the third level, people need to take a lift or stairs to level two and then move to the old building to take the lift or stairs to level three.
In a further statement to the ABC, the university said it was making changes following the complaints from Ms Joyce.
"La Trobe takes seriously all issues around disability access, including those raised by our student, Tash Joyce, with regards our new library in Bendigo," it said.
"Installation of final directional signage in the new building will be completed in the coming weeks."