The Disability Hire Vehicles Journey: When Need Transforms Into Service

Van parked in front of Uluru with a man in a wheelchair sitting in front

The Disability Hire Vehicles journey, when need transforms into service. That is how the Disability Hire Vehicles journey started back in 1998. Ken Ferris, founder of Disability Hire Vehicles, recognised a need in Australia for the ability to have a vehicle that had wheelchair access.

The disability hire vehicles journey

This need started for him back in the UK, where he was able to source an accessible van for himself. However, when he came back to Australia in 1998, he could not find any cars to hire that would make it easy for him to travel with access. So, he started to set up his own business. Importing the vehicles to hire out to tourists who came to visit our great country, and also for local residents with disability and a passion to get out and about.

“Transport for the independent traveller”

Shortly after setting up the business with accessible vans, Ken also delved into cars with hand controls for the more independent traveller who wanted to self-drive. Even a roof hoist can be fitted if the need is there to maintain the traveller completely independent! Disability Hire Vehicles’ moto is “Transport for the independent traveller”.

NDIS registered provider

Disability Hire Vehicles is also an NDIS registered provider. In certain circumstances, car rental funding can be approved through your NDIS Plan. It is best to check with your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) for this type of approval. 

Product range – station wagon  

Currently, Disability Hire Vehicles has a Holden Commodore station wagon fitted with Fadiel Italiana FSK2005 trigger accelerator and also the push-pull hand controls, a spinner knob and a left foot accelerator from Total Ability. This vehicle is popular with the self-drive traveller.  

The FSK2005 is a versatile hand control that easily transitions a driver who is used to driving with the more traditional mechanical push-pull hand controls to this modern electronic accelerator. The Holden Commodore wagon has been fitted with the option to drive either the FSK2005 or the electronic push-pull hand control. Both have electronic accelerators and are very smooth to drive.  

FSK2005 electronic accelerator and brake hand control installed in Disability Hire Vehicle station wagon. When personal need transforms into service.

Product range – vans and mini buses

A range of accessible vans are also available, mostly minibuses at the moment, with wheelchair access ramps or electronic hoists. However, that is soon to change. The business is in a transitional stage looking at expanding their fleet with mini vans in the next couple of months. This type of vehicle is very popular and in great demand. With COVID restricting our ability to travel overseas, the good old road trip is at the top of local residents’ holiday wish list. 

If you ask Ken what his typical customer is, his reflective answer states that “…it varies in peaks and troughs between local Australians and overseas tourists. Lately of course it is mostly local residents due to border restrictions.  

Making a booking

Generally, 1-2 weeks’ notice is enough to book a vehicle, however, Mothers’ Day, Father’s Day and Christmas/New Year gets booked out well in advance as it is a popular time for families to get their relatives out of nursing homes or to plan a trip. 

The best way to book is to give the team at Disability Hire Vehicles a call on 02 4577 2225. In this way all of the traveller’s needs can be discussed and planned for to ensure a smooth trip. Their website is full of useful information with a very detailed FAQ page and a long list of Links to relevant organisations, including links to a Tourist Quiz page to test tourists on their knowledge of Australian road rules. We could probably all do with a refresher! 

When need transforms into service

Cars/vans can be delivered anywhere in the Sydney metro area as well as all around the country. For example, you can pick up a car/van in Cairns at your hotel and drop it off in Uluru at the airport! Just tell Ken where you want it and he will organise to have it there. 

Photo of van with two people in front with Sydney harbour bridge in the background. Sydney's Original Access Car Rental Company  

In 22 years of business, there have been many special hires along the way. Famous sporting greats such as Alex Zanardi (F1 driver) and the late Beth Cuthbert (Olympian) or Louise Sauvage (Paralympian).  

The most memorable one though is of an Israeli man who was in the army and was hit by a landmine. He got pretty badly hurt but decided he wanted to come to Australia and do a road trip as part of his rehab once he left hospital. It was an opportunity to get away from everything. He came to Sydney, rented a car with hand controls and travelled around the country. For him it was an important part of his psychological and physical recovery. An unforgettable experience. 

The best feedback!

The best feedback Ken has ever received was from a UK couple who hired the wagon with hand controls. They saw more of Australia in a month than most of us do in a lifetime of living here. They went from Melbourne to Cairns and ended their trip in Uluru.  

When they left the car, they left a poem in it expressing their trip and having the car to do it. Essentially, they let Ken and the team know that rain, hail or shine the car was reliably there and it gave them the trip of a lifetime. A year later they came back and specifically asked for the same vehicle so they could go scuba diving and Ken’s brother (a scuba diver) took them out scuba diving. It became an even more personalised experience that was unforgettable. 

Plans for the future…

When we talked about the future, Ken’s vision is to “…expand the range and give more people the opportunity to explore this wonderful country we live in.”  It all started when personal need transformed to public service!

 Where is your next trip destined to be? Did you know Disability Hire Vehicles is available and could be an integral part of your next big adventure? 

Check them out at Disability Hire Vehicles and have a trip of a lifetime! 

You may also be interested in reading our article on Options to get in and out of your car

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