To: Cameron Hoy, Managing Director Ticketek Australia
I am writing to you to complain about your current system to book accessible tickets. I have three children, two of which are wheelchair users and keen Ed Sheeran fans . We have been through a particularly rough time recently – so I thought tickets would be something wonderful for all of us to look forward to. Soon Wednesday 17 May, I tried, like half of Australia, to pre-book tickets for the upcoming 2018 Ed Sheeran concert at ANZ Stadium, Sydney.
Unlike the rest of Australia though, I stood very little chance.
I believe the system is discriminatory to people with disability and I intend to make a formal complaint of disability discrimination subject to s 5, 7, 8, and 24 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (‘DDA’), to the Human Rights Commissions unless you can provide with satisfactory changes to the following points by the first of July (01/07/2017).
1. The booking process
1.1. Your internet booking does not allow for the booking in the wheelchair accessible area. This is direct discrimination as per s 5 of the DDA. Depending on the venue, I can book various other specified areas online (eg standing, sitting, alcohol free) by way of a simple drop-down selection box
1.2. You have argued (on your website and most recently your Facebook page) that the reason to disallow online purchases of accessible tickets is to make sure they remain for the exclusive use of patrons with mobility issues. While I appreciate your intention to safeguard these tickets, your argument does not add up. Firstly, there is no way to verify that a caller to the “Special Needs” Hotline is genuinely in need of accessible tickets. Secondly, software can accommodate a tickbox in which people confirm they are in genuine need of an accessible ticket (just like agreements to terms and conditions, or age restrictions). Anyone found presenting on the day with accessible tickets and no need, can be refused entry and issued a fine. And finally, it would be relatively straightforward to configure people’s Ticketek account (which has to be created to buy tickets online) to unlock accessible tickets.
1.3. Reasonable adjustments (as outlined in s 5(2) of the DDA) have not been made Since there are no inherent difficulties to allowing the online reservation of accessible tickets, there is no possible defence as allowed under s 45 DDA (see s 45(2)(a)). The online booking needs of people with disabilities are relatively easy to accommodate with technological fixes, as other comparable services (such as online movie ticket bookings or booking in other countries) allow. Thus, any defence of “unjustifiable hardship” (as permitted under s 11 DDA) does not apply.
2. Your “Special Needs” Hotline is inherently discriminatory towards people with disabilities in general and towards people with mobility issues in particular.
2.1. Apart from the hideous name, people with disabilities that have disabilities other than mobility issues do not need to use the “Special Needs” Hotline and can simply book online (in fact, deaf wheelchair users can’t even access the ‘Special Needs” hotline, there is no TTY number). Most people with disability (say, vision impaired, intellectual disability) have no particular need for “special” bookings and can simply book online or using the general phone number. What you actually provide is an “accessibility hotline” which forces people who use wheelchairs for mobility into special and highly limited seating areas and booking arrangements.
2.2. In addition, having one accessibility hotline for almost all venues and covering all States means that at peak times, the hotline is virtually impossible to contact. I rang 120 times (yes, hundred and twenty. I took a screenshot as proof) on one day when the Ed Sheeran tickets went on pre-sale, and I never got through to the endless waiting! I know many of our friends all around Australia had the same experience, and either never got through or spend more than an hour on hold and waiting. While probably unintentional, this amounts to discrimination towards wheelchair users as per s 5(1) and s 5(2) of the DDA.
3. Special seating. (I accept this issue is joint responsibility between Ticketek and the various venues, which is why I am contacting ANZ Stadium directly on this issue.)
3.1. In almost all venues, the accessible areas are separate areas. This is a form of ‘apartheid’ that would never be acceptable if applied to people of different race, gender or sexual orientation. We do not want to be segregated into special holding pens. It really is not that difficult to engineer removable the aisle seats in all the various seating areas so wheelchair users can sit in any area they please on accessible levels, be they in the case of ANZ Stadium, Category A, B, or C grandstand, or alcohol free areas.
3.2. Ticket purchases are limited to one wheelchair user and one companion. This forces people with mobility issues to separate from their friends and family, not only physically (since they have to sit in their “special” area) but also socially. In the case of our family, we have two children that are wheelchair users and one who is not. My joy at finally scoring some Ed Sheeran tickets is tempered by the sad knowledge that we cannot attend the concert as a family; one of us would either have to attend the concert on their own, seated separately from the rest of the family, or stay at home.
This is discrimination towards people with disability (s 5 DDA) and their companions (s 8 and 9 DDA). Again, if there were removable aisle seats throughout venues, this could be rectified without minor adjustments.
I look forward to hearing from you before the first of July,