Parliament: Interesting Speeches

Ticketek Outrage

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: A fortnight ago, purchase of pre-sale tickets to Ed Sheeran’s March 2018 Adelaide Oval concert commenced. The pre-sale period for all Ed Sheeran’s Australian concerts commenced at the same time, apparently causing absolute chaos. For these pre-sale tickets, the only way a person requiring disability access to the concert or using a companion card could purchase tickets was through the special needs hotline. One family, who have had a very difficult time buying tickets, told me that they have been blocked on Facebook by Ticketek after demanding better service. If true, this is a completely outrageous response to a family simply seeking fair access to an everyday experience.

Many constituents contacted my office reporting they had called the Ticketek Special Needs Bookings service more than 100 times without being able to get through on even one occasion, as the line is constantly engaged. It does not even ring. It is clear that Ticketek either needs to allocate more staff to this booking line or fix a technical malfunction. One family contacted me because their 15-year old son is a massive Ed Sheeran fan, as well as being a wheelchair user. This would have been his first concert since The Wiggles, and, although his parents are keen to take him to Ed Sheeran, they just cannot book tickets. It is utterly unfair for such a young person to be denied this right of passage.

I call on Ticketek to urgently improve its sales processes, after many South Australians with disabilities have been unable to purchase tickets for these huge upcoming concerts for both Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran due to an apparent malfunction of Ticketek’s Special Needs Bookings service. People with disabilities have just as much right to attend music, entertainment and sporting events as anyone else; in fact, it is protected under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Given that one in five of us has a disability in this country, it just makes good business sense to include us. Yet, time and time again, barriers such as lack of physical access or poor ticketing procedures prevent us from attending these events.

Ticketek states that people with disabilities who have specific needs, e.g. wheelchair access, or who use a companion card can only purchase tickets through their specific telephone hotline and are unable to attend outlets or buy online, particularly for presale events. During the Fringe Festival, there was a Beccy Cole concert at Adelaide Oval. Due to an oversight by the Fringe Festival organisers and Adelaide Oval and despite being advertised as a wheelchair-accessible event, there was no such access.

Constituents of mine from Highgate Park were denied the opportunity to attend a Fringe event they dearly would have loved to, all because of poor planning and venue set-up that rendered the event inaccessible to them. Some cinemas and other venues are able to provide an online booking service to people with disabilities, so it is time that big ticketing companies moved into the 21st century and started providing a modern, fair-for-all service.

More generally, I would like to raise the issue of accessible concert, music and sporting venues. Far too many buildings, public spaces and venues across Adelaide, and indeed the state of South Australia, remain inaccessible to people who have disabilities, the elderly, parents with prams and so on, or they require back entrance or assisted entry. People with disabilities should be able to go through the front door, wherever possible, just like someone else. After all, we are paying the same price, if not more, for accessible seating at concert and sporting events.

In The Advertiser a couple of weeks ago, the Dignity Party raised the lack of changing places in South Australia as a concern. We are the only state in Australia not to have an accredited, high-level access changing place toilet that includes extra room, a hoist and an adult-size changing table. It would be good, indeed it is vital, to see a changing place at least at Adelaide Oval and in the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. This is something we continue to lobby on, as well as trying to get changing places in other venues across the state.

The disability community is getting a raw deal in many respects, particularly when it comes to buying tickets or entry to community, arts and sporting events. It is time ticketing services and venues either improve their access or face prosecution under the Disability Discrimination Act.