Occupational health and safety versus friends’ enjoyment of a show

  • News
  • 23/08/2018
Maree Ireland
Red interior of Her Majesty's Theatre Melbourne

The following article contains Maree Ireland’s personal views only and not the views of Field.

In the past week my friend and I have attended 3 musical shows at 3 different venues. We enjoyed each show on its own merit. However, there was one show at Her Majesty’s Theatre, where our enjoyment was decreased because of the venue’s OH&S rules. 

My friend and I are both in motorised wheelchairs and because of this we are not permitted to sit together. We were told we must sit at each end of a row of seats. The reason given for this is in case of fire it is easier to get ‘wheelchairs’ evacuated if the wheelchairs are separated. I did not understand the logic of this reasoning, so I took it up with management of the venue. I was told the above and it was an OH&S decision and “that’s the way it is.”

We have been to many shows at this venue and just accepted that we couldn’t sit together to some extent. But after seeing 2 other shows at 2 different venues (at Rod Laver Arena and the State Theatre respectively) where we could sit together and enjoy the show, I realised how much we lose by not being able sit together. At these 2 shows we could sing, dance, joke, appreciate funny parts and take selfies. This all added to the enjoyment and memories of the show.

So, have you assisted any friends with disabilities to a musical/show/concert where they had to sit in separate aisle wheelchair seats?

What do you think could be done about this?