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Qudos Bank Arena cites ‘duty of care’ in refusing P!NK concert VIP area access to woman in wheelchair
Qudos Bank Arena has cited its “duty of care” to all patrons in denying a disabled fan and her carer entry into a VIP area following a dispute over wheelchair access at P!NK’s Sydney concert last Saturday.
Disability advocate Marlena Katene, who has cerebral palsy, and her carer Bert Hibbert had tickets to the VIP experience for the P!NK Wild At Heart Tour at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena at the weekend.
However, as has been widely reported, when the pair sought to access to the standing section of the arena they were denied access and directed to a specific wheelchair space.
Unhappy with the not being able to access the area, and the apparent lack of warning about the supposed access issues, the pair questioned the decision.
Having been given access to a similar area at P!NK's Melbourne show at the Rod Laver Arena, the pair asked to speak to the staff member who made the call, Katene advised “security came over 15 minutes later and told us it was their policy.”
Asking to see the policy, which staff were apparently unable to provide, security staff and members of the NSW Police became involved.
With video showing a dispute in which Hibbert can be heard asking for the policy in writing, he was then escorted out of the venue and told to remain 50 metres away from the venue, while Katene remained inside.
Commenting on the incident, Qudos Bank Arena General Manager Steve Hevern said the venue had been in prior contact with Katene regarding the change of seating, telling media outlets “we respect Ms Katene’s enthusiasm and excitement to enjoy the concert in the way she had anticipated, however, we have a duty of care to Ms Katene as well as all other patrons to ensure a safe event for all.
“Our goal was to provide a safe alternative in an equivalently-priced location to ensure the best possible experience for Ms Katene.”
Hevern said the venue had previously made arrangements with Katene to accommodate her requests during other performances, adding “we are disappointed our efforts to safely accommodate Ms Katene did not meet her expectations, therefore we provided a full refund to her and Mr Hibbert (who accompanied her to the concert).
“We take the comfort and safety of all patrons of all levels of ability extremely seriously and will continue to work closely with all of our staff to ensure people feel welcome and safe.”
Katene commented “we purchased tickets legally and nowhere was it stated that wheelchairs were not allowed.
"In my mosh-pit experience having a wheelchair creates an even greater level of respect on the floor.
"The social aspect is worth the VIP ticket price alone and something I would not experience in the wheelie section."
While the pair have been refunded the cost of their tickets they say they are still out of pocket for their trip from the Gold Coast to Sydney.
Katene says she is seeking legal representation on the matter and has also tried to contact the US superstar.
Shine Lawyers’ discrimination law expert Christie Toy said under the law business in Australia cannot discriminate in the terms and conditions offered to the goods/services or access on the basis of a disability.
Toy told the Gold Coast Bulletin, “it is unlawful in Australia to discriminate against a person with a disability when providing goods, services and access to places.
“Stadiums must adhere to the legislation and ensure that those with a disability have the same right of enjoyment at a concert as those who do not have a disability. This will not be achieved if they are being relegated to a walkway.
“If a concert goer was removed from a concert simply because they had a disability than this is indeed going to be a legal issue.
“A business will fall back on the defence of ‘unjustifiable hardship’ in this sort of discrimination claim (as) under the law they don’t have to make changes to provide disability access if it’s going to come at an excessive cost.”
Images: Qudos Bank Arena (top and middle) and Steve Hevern (below).
7th August 2018 - Hospital stay causes cancellation of P!nk’s Sydney concerts
15th July 2018 - P!nk concerts attract 6,000 visitors to Perth
1st February 2018 - Global eSports stars to return to Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena
1st November 2017 - Qudos Bank Arena named in world’s top six performing venues
11th April 2016 - Allphones Arena rebrand under Qudos Bank banner
29th November 2015 - New guide provides easier access to arts and events in Sydney
28th September 2015 - AEG Ogden announces Steve Hevern as Allphones Arena General Manager
10th November 2008 - SICO innovation in disabled stage access
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