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Cairns CLC assists diabetic student who is made to ‘feel like a junkie’


Wendy Saunders

A NORTH Queensland training organisation has been accused of discriminating against a student with diabetes after forcing her to inject lifesaving insulin off campus.

Wendy Saunders is studying a Diploma of Community Services with Dreamtime Training in Kirwan and was recently told she would no longer be allowed to test her blood or inject insulin in the classroom because it posed a safety risk to other students.

Ms Saunders claims the organisation was aware of her condition but only changed its workplace safety policy when she asked for a sharps container to be supplied.

“I have to check my blood seven times a day and inject insulin five times and I always let my classmates and teachers know when I had to do it,” Ms Saunders (pictured) said.

“But now they’ve changed their policy and have told me I have to go to the shopping centre’s toilet and use the mother and baby room, but that is not hygienic and doesn’t even have a chair.
“They are also making me feel like I’m a junkie.”

Ms Saunders said she asked management about installing a partition and sharps container in one of the classrooms but sought legal advice after she was denied.

The Cairns Community Legal Centre has written to Dreamtime Training claiming that by prohibiting the use of sharps, the organisation is breaching the Disability Standards for Education, Standards for Registered Training Organisations and the Disability Discrimination Act. They are yet to receive a response.

“This has now gone beyond just me, I want to open the door for other insulin-dependent people and I will keep fighting,” Ms Saunders said.

Dreamtime Training CEO Emmakita Geia told the Bulletin changes had been made to the workplace safety policy after other students raised safety concerns.

“Initially when the student used her syringe it was in plain sight of all students and children in the room,” Ms Geia said.

“For this reason we made some minor changes to the policy to allow for students who needed to use syringes in this manner to have some more privacy but also to keep the classroom safe and secure for all students.

“We have other students in the same situation … and have never had any concerns.”

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