Disability advocate escorted out of cafe in tears
Disability advocate and former Labor candidate for the seat of Dickson, Ali France, has revealed the shocking treatment she received at a Brisbane cafe last month.
France, 47, who ran against Peter Dutton in the seat of Dickson in last year's federal election, said she was escorted away from a table by security at Jamaica Blue cafe at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre in Brisbane's west on November 21, despite being in pain after surgery.
Using an electric scooter after surgery to her left leg - that was amputated above the knee after a car careened into her in a Brisbane car park in 2011 - France was waiting at the outdoor table with her 14-year-old son, while her other son, 16, went inside to order hot chocolates.
France could not access the store's busy counter with her scooter.
She said a waitress told her she couldn't sit at the table unless she had ordered and was then told by a male staff member the section she was sitting in was about to close, despite another family sitting next to her.
France said it was her first shopping trip with her kids after recent surgery and "moving hurt'' and she needed to "rest and refuel''.
"I said I'd had surgery, was an amputee and wanted to stay while waiting for the order,'' France said.
"I begged him to let us stay until the order arrived, said I'd just got out of hospital. He said if I didn't move he'd call security.''
France said she was then told she couldn't sit unless she ordered food, not just drinks, and that she also hadn't signed the COVID form that was inside at the counter - that she couldn't access.
A security guard then arrived, as well as the ordered drinks, and France, now in tears, was escorted out.
"There were lots of people watching around us, staring. I hadn't even had a chance to take a sip of the hot chocolate. I got back into the scooter sobbing,'' she said.
Speaking on International Day of People with a Disability, France said it took her awhile to reveal the incident because she was "deeply upset'' by it.
"The general public find these stories shocking but in fact they are not that uncommon for people with mobility issues,'' she said.
"I was embarrassed for my kids and it really impacted me. I was sobbing for three or four hours afterwards. It felt really cruel. It was not acceptable and the most disgraceful behaviour. I felt so violated in a way … the lack of compassion was staggering. It was really awful.''
A spokesperson for Jamaica Blue said "Jamaica Blue and our franchisee owner at Indooroopilly would like to sincerely apologise for any offence or embarrassment experienced by Ali France and her family".
"We serve hundreds of people with disabilities every day at our cafes and employ many people with disabilities. We are deeply disappointed by this incident and apologise unreservedly.''
Originally published as Disability advocate escorted out of cafe in tears