Human rights news in other jurisdictions

Metro City worker reprimanded after making wheelchair user sign waiver on entry

Emma Young, WA Today | January 04, 2017

A Perth wheelchair user has accused Northbridge's premier concert venue Metro City of discrimination in making her sign a waiver before she entered.

Mallika, who preferred not to have her surname published, said she'd been attending Metros for various concerts over the past two decades and had never before had to sign anything.

But after an 18-month concert break, late last year she attended the venue first to see Cog and then the Deftones, and was pulled aside on entry each time and asked to sign a waiver.

The first time, taken by surprise and not wishing to disrupt the thousand-strong queue or "rock the boat", she signed. 

But the second time she saw red.

"Nobody else has to sign. Not my husband, not my friends, none of the Deftones fans flooding in around me. It's embarrassing, degrading, disconcerting, condescending," she said. 

The Metro City website says people with an "existing injury, are pregnant, or have a pre-existing medical condition" have to sign waivers acknowledging they enter the venue at their own risk.

But Mallika told WAtoday to lump a person with a disability into this category was "completely inappropriate". 

She said it was common for people with disabilities to face additional barriers in public places.

"You will be out somewhere, if you're blind a pedestrian crossing signal won't work for you, or there will be no access to a building," she said.

"But those things could happen to anyone. You don't have to put your name on it and sign that it's OK. But I was there signing something given to me with no explanation, just using my vulnerability as a customer and that feeling I have of not being able to go inside if they don't let me.

"You don't complain about everything, everywhere. You just want to get on with it. People have lives to live and often things are difficult enough without rocking the boat. 

"But if you're not conversant with the Disability Discrimination Act, how to self advocate or take next steps this is something you would sign, maybe get injured, not tell anyone then live injured for the rest of your life."

She said she felt it was her responsibility to speak up and she had lodged an Australian Human Rights Commission complaint. 

Metro City director David Mariyun-Hay said now that management had been alerted to the incident he could confirm there was no requirement for wheelchair users to sign such a waiver and a staff member had deployed, in error, the procedure relating to injured patrons. 

"The staff member has been reprimanded to ensure such an incident does not occur again," he said. 

"Metro City is dedicated to ensuring that all patrons can enjoy their experience at the venue without fear of discrimination and are deeply disappointed that this incident has occurred. Metro City welcomes people with disabilities and has world class facilities to ensure all have a great concert experience."

He said management would ensure the situation was not repeated. 

It's not the first time a Perth venue has come under fire for its treatment of disabled patrons.

Back in November, Perth woman Marina Nelson said she felt dehumanised and humiliated after being told by staff at a concert at nib Stadium she couldn't go onto to the dancefloor because her wheelchair would rip it up.

At the time acting chief executive of Venues West, Janis Carren, said the woman was a victim of misunderstanding. 

​ The Australian Human Rights Commission's guide to buying goods and services says that under the Disability Discrimination Act, people with disabilities have the right to use services and facilities in the same way as people without disabilities, including theatres and other places of entertainment.

"The DDA makes it against the law for providers of goods, services and facilities to discriminate against a person because of his or her disability," it says.

"This means that providers of facilities cannot provide the facilities in an unfair manner."