Dapto's Mick Robson wants disability training for bouncers

Mick Robson says bouncers need training on dealing with people with disabilities. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Mick Robson says bouncers need training on dealing with people with disabilities. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Dapto man Mick Robson just wanted to go out and celebrate his birthday with friends.

But by the end of what was supposed to be a good night out, he claims to have been made to feel "unwelcome" by Hotel Illawarra staff.

Mr Robson alleges a security guard pulled him aside, suspecting he was intoxicated, due to his gait, trouble with co-ordination and difficulty balancing.

In fact, the 24-year-old was exhibiting classic signs of cerebral palsy - a condition he has suffered since he was two years old.

He told security about his disability but, he says, the matter was still pursued.

"I felt like I was worthless and they were treating me differently just because of my appearance," Mr Robson said.

"Because of this, I don't want to go out to town in general [now] - especially to the Hotel Illawarra.

"I have even considered going to my doctor to get a letter saying I walk with a limp and that I might mumble but it doesn't mean I am drunk."

On June 21, Mr Robson, a University of Wollongong student, headed to the Market Street pub, and danced with friends before making a trip to the toilet.

When he came out, he says he was immediately approached by a security guard. Mr Robson claims the bouncer asked if they could have a conversation.

He assumed the guard believed he was drunk because of his stagger but he had only consumed a few drinks before he arrived at the pub. Mr Robson told the guard he had a disability but, he says, the guard pursued the issue, only walking away after getting a call on his radio.

"It put a dampener on my birthday night and how I was feeling," Mr Robson said. "It has happened on other occasions and I hadn't even bought a drink there yet."

Mr Robson walked outside and told the security guard on the door about the incident.

He said the man was understanding and allegedly told him to "try again next time" as he was told to leave the venue.

"I have always enjoyed going to the Hotel Illawarra but this time, [staff] assumed the worse.

"I felt like I wasn't welcome and that they didn't want me there, even though I wasn't doing anything wrong or causing any harm."

Mr Robson has had cerebral palsy since he was a toddler.

He walks with a stagger and has a slight speech impairment.

He says his disability is mild but his balance, co-ordination and fine motor skills are not very good, causing his hands to shake when buying a round of drinks.

He is also easily knocked over, despite wearing a leg brace to help his balance.

"During high school, my confidence plummeted," he said.

"People called me 'retard' and 'cripple'.

"It took me a long time to move past that and build my confidence back up - things like this really impact my self-esteem."

Mr Robson believes bouncers need training on dealing with people with disabilities.

The Hotel Illawarra was contacted for comment but did not respond by deadline.

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