On Wednesday, April 5, a group of nine children with disabilities supported by Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ (VMCH) Flexible Respite Service visited Waverley Cinema in Mt Waverley.
The group, accompanied by six support staff and one parent, planned to split up and see three movies as part of the services’ holiday program, which provides vital social opportunities and valuable respite to their families.
Upon attempting to purchase tickets, the group was advised by cinema staff that they would not be sold movie tickets. The reasons given by cinema staff included that the group could “make noise that would be disruptive to other cinema-goers”.
VMCH staff members were disappointed with the cinema’s decision and actively expressed their concern around the lack of inclusion; advocating on the children’s behalf.
A recent statement released by the cinema claiming VMCH support staff were rude and “bullied” cinema staff members is untrue.
Following refusal of entry, the group visited Knox’s Village Cinema, where they went on to see their desired movies without incident.
Many of the children comprehended the refusal and were upset to be excluded from the movies they had been so looking forward to viewing.
VMCH is extremely disappointed at Waverley Cinema’s decision to refuse entry to the people it supports. People of all abilities deserve access to everyday activities everyone in the community enjoys.
Sonya Smart, CEO of VMCH says the welfare of the children and their self-esteem is really important and cannot be underestimated.
“These programs are all about ensuring people with disability have access to be able to enjoy the same activities as others. The message sent to these children is unfortunate.”
Ms Smart says the VMCH Support Staff are highly trained to support children and families and will advocate for the rights of the children in these unusual circumstances.
“Some of the children were aware of what was going on. It concerns me that they were exposed to these behaviours, and they may have felt different. I am grateful to Knox Cinemas for being so wonderful to the children and letting them have a great day at the movies.”
VMCH believe it’s important that organisations are educated on inclusive practices and would be more than happy to have a conversation to educate the cinema so the situation can be avoided in the future.
Jodie A Henry
M: 0438 593 206