Tips for Illawarra bouncers on treatment of disabled patrons

Monika Ristova and her brother Lu Ristov at the Grand Hotel ahead of the Ables event. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Monika Ristova and her brother Lu Ristov at the Grand Hotel ahead of the Ables event. Picture: KIRK GILMOUR

Wollongong nightclub bouncers have been given instruction in managing patrons with disabilities.

Ahead of the Ables nightclub event, and after Dapto man Mick Robson’s ejection from a Wollongong club when bouncers mistook his cerebral palsy for inebriation, disability workers on Thursday held a training session for the Wollongong Nightlife group on integrating patrons into venues.

Illawarra disability worker Beau Thatcher said people with disabilities should be treated like any other clubgoer.

“We don’t want bouncers walking on eggshells, but we want them to treat the disabled like anyone else,” Mr Thatcher said.

Mick Robson claimed he felt “unwelcome” at a club in June when bouncers suspected his cerebral palsy-related co-ordination difficulty was a  symptom of intoxication.

“It’s about having an open mind. If you see someone stumbling or slurring their speech, have a think about the situation before acting,” Mr Thatcher said. “We don’t want security to be patronising, they’ve been trained in these things, but not everyone is up to speed on dealing with disabilities.”

Venue staff and security of Wollongong Nightlife, which operates venues including The Grand Hotel, The Harp Hotel and Ivory, were present.

WNL manager Lu Ristov said the group would reassess policies regarding patrons with disabilities.

“It’s about having a chat and assessing the situation before making a harsh call,” Mr Ristov said.

“People with disabilities should be treated like anyone else.”

Ahead of Ables, a club night for people with disabilities, at the Grand on August 8, the Flagstaff Group will host a dance class at The Grand on Saturday.

“Some people might not be comfortable dancing, or questioning what it will be. We want to let them know what to expect,’’ Mr Thatcher said.

The Masterdance class will start at 10.30am.

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