Commuters with a hidden disability could be offered a helping hand to navigate their way around the NSW rail network by wearing a discrete lanyard decorated with tiny sunflowers.
Transport for NSW’s Clare Appleby says train travel can be challenging for the estimated 138,000 people with a hidden disability such as autism, dementia or anxiety, who use the state’s rail network every day.
Customers can now get a free lanyard to wear while travelling to discreetly indicate they have a hidden disability and may require help.
The lanyards are available at 20 stations or people can apply online to have one delivered.
“This is a simple way of helping station staff, train crew and other customers understand that someone wearing the green and yellow sunflower symbol might need a bit of additional care or patience, or even just a little extra time,” Ms Appleby said on Monday.
Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink customer service staff who have undertaken special training will wear a sunflower pin.
Thomas Kuzma who mentors neurodiverse young people, said the sunflower initiative could help unlock travel opportunities for customers.
“For people with hidden disabilities, train travel comes with some challenges, particularly the unpredictable nature of unplanned changes to timetabled services,” he said.
“Having the option to wear a sunflower lanyard while knowing there are people on the trains and at the stations who provide non-judgemental help, reassures them that this is a safe environment.”
The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program is a global initiative across 39 countries, where staff are being trained at airports, supermarkets and emergency services.