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Consultation opens to improve SA event accessibility

Event operators and ticketing companies involved in some of South Australia’s biggest events are today meeting with state ministers and disability advocates at a roundtable aimed at improving accessibility.

Mar 26, 2024, updated Mar 26, 2024
Belle Owen of JFA Purple Orange welcomed the chance to meet with government and stakeholders seeking to make changes in the accessibility space. Photo: Belle Owen / LinkedIn

Belle Owen of JFA Purple Orange welcomed the chance to meet with government and stakeholders seeking to make changes in the accessibility space. Photo: Belle Owen / LinkedIn

The Ticketing and Inclusion Roundtable will include representatives from Ticketek and Ticketmaster as well as stakeholders from Festival City ADL, Adelaide Venue Management, Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide Oval and Morphettville Racecourse.

Members of disability organisations JFA Purple Orange and Access2Arts will speak, along with Human Services Minister Nat Cook, Arts Minister Andrea Michaels and a representative for Recreation, Sport and Racing Minister Katrine Hildyard.

The discussion has been designed to assist key stakeholders in the event space to improve accessibility.

Purple Orange policy and projects manager Belle Owen said she welcomed the conversation, having previously spoken with InDaily about the government failing to include people living with disabilities in their decision-making processes.

“For the disability community in South Australia things as simple as buying appropriate tickets, getting information about an event and getting the experience we pay for is too often inaccessible, inconvenient and confusing,” she said.

“We need to shift the way we view disability access and inclusion and commit to a holistic approach to updating processes, venues and attitudes in the sector led by people from the disability community.

“Our community deserves equity in access- through the ticketing process, designated spaces and the experience of attending shows.”

Today’s discussion comes amid an increase in complaints from people with disabilities and their carers, including concerns around purchasing tickets using Companion Cards, limitations in accessible seating, limitations to equal participation, and overall awareness and attitudes of staff.

Cook said the roundtable was part of an “ongoing discussion” that she hoped would “bring about positive change for the disability community”.

“We’ve heard from people with disability about their experiences accessing events and venues and today we’ve brought together industry, government and key disability advocates to work through these issues and devise opportunities for real and lasting change,” she said.

Minister for Human Services Nat Cook will attend a roundtable discussion on improving accessibility to events. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Cook said there would be further engagement with “disability and lived experience networks, including the Disability Minister’s Advisory Council and the Autism Advisory Committee”.

“While everyone deserves to enjoy our vibrant and diverse events and festivals, we know that many people with disability often experience significant challenges when it comes to accessing events and activities,” she said.

Accessibility at sporting events will also be discussed, with Hildyard saying the roundtable would be an “important step in increasing accessibility”.

“Being amongst thousands of others cheering on a much-loved sporting team competing at the highest level can be absolutely thrilling,” she said.

“We want to help empower every person to equally access these experiences.”

Michaels said it was “vitally important” that everyone has the opportunity for equitable access to events in South Australia.

“We want to support event organisers, venues and ticketing agents to ensure their facilities, processes and staff are accessible and inclusive so that everyone has the benefit of experiencing arts and culture in South Australia,” she said.

Tara MacLeod, executive director for operation and finance at the Adelaide Fringe has previously told CityMag that conversations regarding accessibility at the Fringe were being had at federal and state government levels to work towards removing barriers to accessibility during the event.

MacLeod told CityMag the Fringe had an “opportunity and the obligation to make sure that those barriers are removed”.

The discussion comes after the disability royal commission was completed last year, with recommendations including the establishment of a Disability Rights Act.

As part of this recommendation, the commission stated the Act should require Commonwealth Entities to consult with people with disability in developing and evaluating policies and laws.

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