VALiD's Ballarat Peer Action Group welcomes increased accessibility in the region

Access-minded: Shane Everard's brother Jim Everard, Showbiz Group director Chris Jones and Matt Mattson's daughter Lorraine O'Toole. Picture: Jeremy Bannister
Access-minded: Shane Everard's brother Jim Everard, Showbiz Group director Chris Jones and Matt Mattson's daughter Lorraine O'Toole. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

The local VALiD Peer Action Group have named Showbiz Cinemas as Ballarat’s most accessible venue.

The Everard and Mattson Memorial Award was presented yesterday by Buninyong MP Geoff Howard as an acknowledgement of the cinema’s effort to make their venue wholly accessible for those with disabilities.

The award was part of celebrations for International Day of People with a Disability, which is held annually on December 3.

It was named in memory of local disability advocates Shane Everard and Matt Mattson. 

The Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Disability (VALiD) provide a range of advocacy and information strategies for people with disabilities.

Recognition: Ballarat's VALiD Peer Action Group leader Mark Thompson at the event marking International Day of People with a Disability. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

Recognition: Ballarat's VALiD Peer Action Group leader Mark Thompson at the event marking International Day of People with a Disability. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

Ballarat VALiD Peer Action Group leader Mark Thompson said Showbiz Cinema received the award for ample parking, seating and closed and open captions on films for people with disabilities.

“It’s not just about a disabled chair, they have captioning and new autism-friendly screenings, they’ve done a whole heap of stuff,” he said. 

“What they intend to do in the future is fantastic too.”

“Shane Everard and Matt Mattson worked tirelessly to make our community more aware and inclusive of other people with disabilities.

“We rung up the Men’s Shed through the week and asked if they’d mind coming to cook the barbecue, and it wasn’t a problem, because there’s now no stigma attached.

“It’s important, and if locals don’t make their businesses more accessible, we won’t shop there and we don’t spend our dollars there, we’ll go somewhere else.”

Showbiz Group director Chris Jones said the cinemas were committed to increasing the ease of access and enjoyment for those with disabilities. 

“Because it was a new build, we were presented with the opportunity to ensure that we made it as accessible as possible to all communities and all people,” he said. 

“Our philosophy is that we want as many people to come to our cinemas as possible, and to achieve that, we need to be accessible.”

VALiD was created in 1989, and has a current focus of assisting people to access the National Disability Access Scheme. 

Ballarat’s Peer Action Group is planning a twilight screening of Defiant Lives, chronicling the disability rights movement in Australia, Britain and the United States.