NOTE: I would normally not publish a private email but with this one from the AFL had to be an exception!
I have just received a very disappointing email from the AFL that relates to game accessibility for people with a disability as a response to a message I sent via their website.
There is another group of people that want to attend the football that simply cant! They are people with a disability that require parents/carers to change them due to incontinence. This is a bigger problem than most people are aware of.
This cannot be done away from home for adolescents through to adults within the community.
In the UK they have for a number of years been rolling out www.changing-places.org/to facilitate this for parents and carers. A similar programme is already being investigated within Australia. A changing place is a larger accessible toilet that includes an adult adjustable height change table and over head personal hoist.
I would suggest the AFL look at rolling out an accessibility programme that includes prayer rooms, parents rooms and accessible change facilities to make venues more accessible for the diverse range of people that want to go to the football
The AFL, directly to Andrew Demetriou as CEO, received an approach from Richmond’s Bachar Houli, who was appointed this year to the position of one of our multicultural ambassadors. His role is to build relationships in the Islamic community and to provide advice to the AFL and steps that may assist us to grow interest in the game. Bachar’s view was that some fans were restricted in accessing games by the fact there was nowhere for them to fulfill prayer duties – options of a car park, stairwell etc were unacceptable. He particularly stressed though that any space to be used be also welcome for all fans of other faiths for whatever observances / reflections / meditation they may wish to undertake.
The point in this case is that the space that is to be used is available to any person who wishes to use it, and the point from the Muslim community was that they sought to have an area that was available for those who would take it up Separately, on the wider issue of why this has caused so much debate, the AFL is perplexed as to why this matter provokes such interest from people who have no need for the room and no intention to use it, and why there is such opposition towards a step to further include people who believe in the Muslim faith, or any other faith.I would point out that Muslim Australians are Australians, and they are most welcome at our games.
If some people are using a prayer room – be they Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Anglican or anything else – it will in fact have zero impact on any person who wishes to remain in their seat and just watch the footy. There is no requirement on any fan to have to visit, but the AFL wants all fans to feel they are welcome and if this helps some fans be part of our game, we will proceed with it.
I hope every fan continues to support their team and enjoy the game and if our crowds grow further, that is our aim.
AFL Media Manager.
In the words of Rove McMannus…. What The?
Yet again it proves the AFL just does not get disability and diversity and how the game they manage is more exclusive than inclusive. I would have expected better. It’s quite obvious that they have not taken the time to read my original email and simply brushed it off without consideration.
Check out our new blog post on changing places accessible WCs that we published last week Changing Places accessible toilets Australia