Human rights in action: a bit of wood, some goodwill - and free cocktails

Human rights in action: a bit of wood, some goodwill - and free cocktails

August 24, 2016

A Wellington pub has shown that human rights is all about attitude. And maybe a couple of free cocktails.

Erin Gough, a Wellington woman and electric-powered wheelchair user, could not get into Slim Davey's pub in Majoribanks St, Mt Victoria, when she visited a month ago, because of a step in the doorway.

The pub told her it would fix the problem and invite her back, but Gough more than a little sceptical, saying she had heard that line a few times before.

"But last weekend I got a message to say they'd 'knocked up a ramp' for me to try," she said. "Not only did the ramp work [but] they shouted two rounds of cocktails."

Gough works for the Human Rights Commission as a disability focused specialist, and says it often feels as though human rights are aspirational statements in lofty documents, created and debated in faraway places.

"The real magic happens on the ground, and sometimes all it takes is some wood, and a will, to do good for good business's sake."

Any raised obstruction in the path of power chair can restrict the user's access, as the chair does not have the power to lift itself over.

Photo Creidt: Ross Giblin/Fairfax. A photo of power chair user Erin Gough, who could not get into Slim Davey's pub on her first attempt, but was invited back by owner Davey McDonald and manager Rory Linstrom some weeks later after they provided a ramp in

Slim Davey's owner Davey McDonald said the entrance was now smooth, and no longer a blockage for other power chair users.

"For us, we were really embarrassed that Erin couldn't get in, so we definitely wanted to right that.

"At Slim Davey's we want people to treat our pub like an extension of their living room, and a living room should be accessible to everyone."

Gough, who has used a wheelchair since she was a child, said attitude was the thing that mattered most.

"I live with it and I work in it, but they didn't know that, and it just shows how you can do something simple to show your dedication to human rights."

She had since taken to social media to sing the praises of the bar for following through on its word. 

Disability Rights Commissioner Paul Gibson also applauded the bar's move, saying it had "shown us what human rights in action really looks like". 

"They are not just making their business accessible because they have to – they are making their business accessible because it is also the right thing to do.

"By raising the bar on accessibility, Slim Davey's is showing us what business and human rights can look like when they are realised."

 This article originally appeared in The Dominion Post. You can read it here

Brad Flahive

The author of this article, Brad Flahive, writes for the Dominion Post, a Wellington-based broadsheet paper. The Dominion Post provides Wellington news, business, politics, sport, and reviews.