Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

Major cinema chains recognised for improving accessibility

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas has congratulated Australia’s four major cinema chains after they jointly won an Australian Human Rights Award for their work to make cinemas more accessible.

In 2010, Hoyts Cinemas, Village Cinemas, Event/Greater Union/Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas and Reading Cinemas jointly announced an agreement with the Australian Government to introduce new audio description and closed captioning technology, as part of a bold new plan to improve cinema access for people who are deaf, blind, vision or hearing impaired.

The Accessible Cinema Advisory Group (ACAG), which includes the four cinema chains, motion picture distributors, the disability and media advocacy sectors and the Australian Human Rights Commission, was established to drive this work.

Supported by an Australian Government investment of $470,000, ACAG has been working to a four-year schedule of installations that will provide cutting edge technology to allow people with impaired hearing or vision to enjoy movies in more cinemas across Australia.

Senator McLucas said that under the plan, 242 accessible screens will be available by the end of 2014.

“It’s fantastic that the cinemas have received this award, which recognises a commitment to the promotion and advancement of human rights in the Australian community,” Senator McLucas said.

“This award is shared with all of the people who have been working over the past two years to improve accessibility of the cinema experience. This includes people with disability, disability and community organisations, the cinema industry and government.

“Historically, accessible cinema was limited to just a handful of sessions per week at major city locations, and sessions were often of the same movie for two or more weeks running and played at unpopular times of the day.

The cinemas saw the transition to digital cinema as an opportunity to introduce digital accessible cinema technology and worked with the Australian Government and groups representing people with disability to draw up the Cinema Access Implementation Plan.

“As a collective, they have worked together to find a way to better meet consumer demand for access to cinemas, promote further social inclusion and make a positive impact on the lives of people with disability..

“Through the Cinema Access Implementation Plan, not only have the cinemas shown great corporate social responsibility in their commitment to the promotion and advancement of human rights and equality in Australia, they are leading the world by being the only group to have a nationwide plan for the roll-out of accessible cinema.

“By engaging with people with disability and working together to implement the plan nationwide, the cinemas have been active leaders in ironing out technical issues as they occur, ensuring staff are trained on the equipment and disability awareness, and providing high quality customer service to patrons who may be new to not just their cinema but cinema in general.

“Progress has been solid and accessible cinemas are coming online faster than initially scheduled.”

Hoyts Cinemas, Village Cinemas, Event/Greater Union/Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas and Reading Cinemas took out the Business Award at the 25th Human Rights Awards announced this week.

For further information on the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group’s work, visit