FREMANTLE PORTS has apologised to a group of disabled people who attend a regular disco at the E-Shed markets after it botched its response to an incident that led to sessions being cancelled and a carer disciplined by their employer.
The disabled dancers turned up to their regular Friday disco earlier this month and were given flyers telling them the rest of the month had been cancelled. The discos would then only be held monthly while a review of “risk management” was being held.
Organisers then took the names of carers in the room, completely ignoring the shocked participants.
One of the dancers’ parents told the Herald she was appalled at how her son had been treated, while his support worker came back saying the Ports’ representative had been “dictatorial and dismissive”.
“This place is one of the very few social gatherings for people with disability in The Perth CBD,” the mother said.
“My son gets a chance to exercise some independence, social connection (his only one), enjoy music and dance and buy a meal from the few food stalls there.”
She said a call to Ports initially earned a brush-off, while a subsequent email had different information from what was on the flyer.
Another parent said it all stemmed from an incident a few weeks ago when one of the participants got out of hand while their carer was outside making phone calls.
The participant was banned, which led to the carer being disciplined by their employer. But they responded by making a complaint that the venue had access issues and the toilets were not up to scratch.
That forced Ports to respond with its risk review, but one parent said that made no sense if sessions were suddenly going monthly.
“How stupid to say it’s once a month; is there suddenly going to be no risk on that day?
“In fact, when you have it once a month, it will become crowded.”
She said the participants and their parents were also upset about the treatment of DJ Darrell, who’s been spinning the tunes at the discos for nearly two decades.
“Darrell turned up and the guy told him he didn’t want him for the next three weeks – that’s hardly notice.”
She also said the decision would also impact the small businesses in the E-Sheds, as she usually stops for a meal and a drink with her daughter after the session, as do a number of the other families.
Ports communication officer Sally Swingler told the Herald the messaging could have been delivered better and they would consult closely from now on.
“We’re proud of the community that’s grown at E Shed with the entertainment provided by DJ Darrell,” Ms Swingler said.
“Over time, the numbers of patrons has grown, and a risk assessment is being conducted to ensure we are providing a safe event for all our patrons.
“The pause is to allow the risk assessment to take place and is not intended to move to a monthly format, this was a miscommunication.
“The initial risk assessment took place earlier [last] week and is planned to be concluded as soon as possible. We’ve already had feedback from a number of patrons and advice from organisations keen to help.
“Fremantle Ports apologises for any offence caused by asking for contacts of carers. The intention was to understand which disability organisations were represented at the disco, and how we could improve or perhaps collaborate in the future.
“Once we are satisfied what changes, if any, need to be made, events will resume.
“E Shed is a great place for the community to come together to enjoy, whether it’s a bite to eat, drink, shop or disco, and we want it to stay that way.”
by STEVE GRANT