Lights, camera, action

A month ago I was asked by PR at Yooralla if I would be interested in being in a three minute film for the Yooralla website. The film would be about Melbourne and the different sites around town, emphasizing its accessibility.

If you know me, you’d know that I can be a little shy at first – especially when trying new things. But you would also know that this is the year for me to try new things – get out there and seize the world!

So I said. I would love to be on the Yooralla website. It would be a pleasure to be on the City of Melbourne website. It thrills me to the bone at the possibility to be on the big screen in Fed Square. Can’t think of anything else I would rather do.

Once I committed to the project, there was a lot of back and forth with changing the script and making sure it was alright to film in certain areas – fed square, the Vineyard in St Kilda and the airport. Not only would I be filmed at these locations, but also on the tram making my way to St Kilda – once again emphasizing how easy it is for people with a disability to access public transport.

As a person with a disability working within the disability sector, I believe I have a duty to advocate for my clients when I see there is a need to do so. I have the skills, the knowledge and the resources to do this.

We started filming today at Federation Square (FS). First shot was of me sitting by the Yarra, showing the beauty of where the FS is located. That’s fine – couldn’t agree more. It is a beautiful location.

Next shot was of me standing outside the Mobility Centre which is located on the bottom level of the FS car park, at the back of FS. Before today, I had heard of the Mobility Centre but had never been there. It’s a great service. They provide wheelchairs, walking frames, vision canes and children strollers along with disabled toilets and baby change facilities. However, if I hadn’t of done the filming there, there was no chance I would have seen it.

While the centre is next to the disabled toilets, it is situated at the end of the staircase to the upper levels, hidden from the parking spots. How is a person able to find the centre without being told about it?

A woman working there said that while FS is a challenge, if you do your homework, FS is easy to access. Seriously? When I traveled I did my homework, of course, but a lot of people don’t. Something like the mobility centre should be visible from the main streets, along with signs placed around the area.

After we filmed the centre, we moved up to the main area of FS and I draped myself on the grass while I talked arout the restaurants, cafes and galleries available at FS (side note: I still have to try transport and taxi). This statement is true and I had no qualms stating it.

The director then wanted a shot of me walking along FS, along the cobbled ground. When I was doing this I saw little pictures of the disabled sign and the director informed me that this was to show the easiest part to walk along. It was so small and I only saw it because I was looking at the ground waiting for the go-ahead to start walking. When I did start, my frame jerked along the path and I really had to focus on my walking.

I am going to still be in this film because I like being involved in the project, but I am going to do something to advocate for not only myself, but also for other people who have a disability.

Now, I am on a committee through the City of Melbourne and I did speak to someone about FS, but FS is privately owned and they can’t do much about it. After todays filming, I am going to look into who owns it and then write a letter as well as call them.

A place like Federation Square, which is in the public arena, should be accessible to all.

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3 thoughts on “Lights, camera, action

  1. Hi Tully,

    No need to find Fed Square – we’ve found you! We were really interested to hear about your experience at Fed Square. We’re constantly working at improving the accessibility of the site so it was good to get some feedback and suggestions.

    Feel free to email me at kimberley.polkinghorne@fedsquare.com if you’d like to chat further.

    Regards, Kimberley

  2. Hi Tully,
    I have voiced my complaints about Fed square before. Those tiny signs are supposed to make it easier for physical and visually disabled people to traverse Fed square, useless! they are so small, if you have a visual imparement you cant even see them. The uneven surface is so difficult to manage with a chair or as you will have discovered a walking frame and if you have a “depth of field” problem it is doubly difficult.
    The Mobility centre is actually sign posted at Swanston St, but the sign is not easily seen. If you walk down the BirrungMa [sp] path there is a sign to it, but no good in a wheel chair – too high. The centre itself is good for another reason — you get free coffee!!!!!! and a quiet place to eat your lunch, they also have the best free books about access in the city.
    How do I know all this? I use the centre quite often and I went to their last open day to talk about these things.
    I will be very interested to hear how you go on the trams, they are very un-wheelchair friendly.
    Enjoy your film making,
    Anne

  3. I think Fed Square can be a physical challenge for people without disabilities, so I’m sure it is problematic for those who do. While I enjoy its quirky design visually,there are quite a few different levels and uneven surfaces to adjust to.

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