Disability advocate ‘speechless’ over Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival

Posted 7 months ago by David McManus
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Shane Hryhorec, managing director of Push Mobility, grew up in South Australia and founded the disability equipment company in 2013 after sustaining a broken neck in 2007. [Source: Supplied]
Shane Hryhorec, managing director of Push Mobility, grew up in South Australia and founded the disability equipment company in 2013 after sustaining a broken neck in 2007. [Source: Supplied]

People across Adelaide took to social media to comment on Shane’s recount of the Film Festival.

Key points:

  • Shane Hryhorec attended the Port Adelaide Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival on Friday, August 25, 2023
  • Although inclusivity was planned to be a core theme of the festival, Shane — an advocate for people with disability — felt the historic Semaphore Odeon Star Cinema had been exclusionary by design
  • The Push Mobility founder said that he would be open to attending future festivals, should the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Council work with advisors

 

Shane Hryhorec purchased a ticket for the Port Adelaide Diversity and Inclusion Film Festival, held at the Semaphore Odeon Star Cinema on August 25, 2023. Shane, who uses a wheelchair, was left speechless upon arrival.

The Festival showcased a range of films, of or under a 20-minute runtime, with core messages about underrepresented or culturally diverse groups in society. However, in a Facebook post published by Mr Hryhorec, the advocate said he felt “anything but included,” due to the wheelchair-inaccessible venue.

“First of all, I’d like to make it clear that initiatives like these are incredibly important for our community and for people living with disabilities and I commend the organisers for putting it together to showcase diverse stories,” the post stated.

“[…] After finding out I couldn’t join the majority of guests in the lower lobby, missing out on a photo booth opportunity, a friend also informed me of a DJ playing upstairs, which yet again, due to the absence of a lift, was also not accessible.

“To add to this, my ticket was for cinema one — the larger, main cinema— however, it was not wheelchair accessible, so consequently I had to settle for the movie playing in cinema two, where the only wheelchair seating was inconveniently located at the very back, away from other guests.”

Talking Disability journalist David McManus spoke with Mr Hryhorec about his experience at the Festival, as the advocate explained he felt more could have been done.

“I’m all about inclusion. If the Council had asked, I would have said ‘this is not the right venue for it,’” Shane said.

“I was actually speaking with another person with disability and we were saying that it was a form of tokenism, in a way. If you’re hosting an inclusivity event, make it inclusive — that’s why there is a DDA [disability discrimination act].

“I would love to work with the Council in the future or with an established disability advisory committee to make changes in the future, with certain procedures in place for sponsoring events.”

The PADIFF website reflected the concerns raised by Shane: “We apologise for the limited wheelchair access at our venue. Due to the age and architectural constraints of the building, we are facing some limitations. However, we are committed to finding a solution and have started exploring different venues for next year’s event.”

 

What do you believe Councils in Australia should do to accommodate the needs of people with disability? Which historic buildings would you like to see renovated to support public access? Let the team at Talking Disability know!