Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) Acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Narrm, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present, and to Elders of all First Nations communities that visit MCEC.

A driver in a high-vis orange vest driving a travellers aid cart with a passenger in the back outside MCEC.

A Place for Everyone: Creating Accessible Experiences at MCEC

By Bree Pagliuso|

Inspired by Melbourne's vibrant mix of experiences, cultures, and people of all abilities, we infuse this inclusive spirit into every event. Our hope? To create a place where everyone of all abilities can engage, connect, and enjoy. With over 70,000 sqm of adaptable event space and a diverse annual event calendar, we're constantly striving to increase accessibility and expand possibilities.

Two women are chatting in a busy convention. One lady is in a wheelchair while the other is sitting on an orange couch.
Access For All

At Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), we foster connection, innovation, and groundbreaking discussions. Bringing together globally recognised thought leaders, innovators, and visionaries to host industry-leading events that shape the future of health, science, and community.

Recently, we hosted the Australian Disability Network IMPACT 2024 Annual Conference and the INSAR Annual Meeting, where the brightest minds in autism research and pioneers in disability and accessibility came together to share insights, ignite ideas, and pave the way for a better tomorrow.

Both events gave us a unique opportunity to extend our accessibility initiatives. Working closely with both IMPACT 2024 Annual Conference and the INSAR Annual Meeting event organisers, we meticulously planned every detail, from creating quiet spaces and adjusting lighting and noise levels to modifying the height of food and beverage tables. Our goal was to ensure that everyone could participate fully and comfortably.

Two women are entering a room, a large yellow double door is opened for them to enter through. One lady is in a mobility scooter while the other walks beside her holding a coffee.

"Hosting the Australian Disability Network IMPACT Conference and INSAR highlighted our dedication to inclusivity. We're proud to work closely with event organisers and collaborate with leading accessibility service providers like Travellers Aid to improve inclusivity and support delegates to meaningfully participate and engage in events at MCEC."

- Rohan Astley, Head of Advocacy, Impact, and Reputation

From the moment attendees arrived at MCEC, every aspect was thoughtfully designed to be accessible and welcoming, ensuring they could engage without limitations.

A lady stands on a stage speaking in front of a podium with the logos INSAR and Melbourne Convention Bureau displayed on the front.
Opening Doors, Opening Minds

The INSAR Annual Meeting brought leading autism researchers to MCEC to share groundbreaking findings and advance the understanding of autism. This event fostered research dialogue, interdisciplinary collaboration, and mentorship for emerging researchers. Each year, autism scientists and their trainees gather to discuss and share the latest scientific progress.

Collaborating closely with INSAR and recognising the unique needs of all attendees was essential. Our expert event planners conducted the logistics of organising the event from halfway around the world. Our dedication to meaningful access was evident in every strategic change we made.

INSAR’s accessibility needs were unique and focused on accommodating attendees who were sensitive to noise and light rather than wheelchair access.

To meet these needs, we:

  • Created quiet, dimly lit spaces for attendees sensitive to noise and light.

  • Replaced hand dryers with paper towels to minimise noise.

  • Put in place a softer bell system to signal session start times.

  • Placed only black meeting chairs in rooms to reduce visual stimuli.

  • Designed meeting rooms with space and freedom for attendees to move freely to the back of rooms.

  • Lowered lighting levels to create a calming atmosphere.

  • Attended a pre-event workshop to learn how to support autistic attendees best.

A large crowd sits in the darkness facing a stage lit up. A large screen with words IMPACT 2024 is displayed and two video screens with a woman in an orange jacket are on either side.
Breaking Ground

The IMPACT 2024 Annual Conference brought together over 600 delegates to discuss global access and inclusion priorities. With a focus on disability employment targets, accessibility in tech, and effective recruitment strategies, the event was all about driving innovation and fostering positive impact.

We covered everything from arranging travel to MCEC, navigating event spaces, enjoying meals, and leaving the venue comfortably. Our thoughtful approach ensured every moment was memorable and impactful for all attendees with diverse needs.

To make every moment special, we implemented a range of thoughtful accessibility features:

  • Easy access to the stage for individuals using wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

  • A hearing loop system transmitted sound wirelessly to hearing aids equipped with a telecoil.

  • On-screen transcription services for attendees with hearing challenges.

  • Auslan interpreters for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

  • Welcoming assistance animals, such as guide dogs and therapy animals.

  • A range of furniture options to ensure comfort for all attendees.

  • Dual handrails were installed to provide additional support and stability.

  • A peaceful, quiet room for attendees to relax and decompress.

  • A sensory room equipped with sensory equipment to help individuals regulate their experiences.

  • Detailed pre-event briefs, including information about restroom locations and other facilities.

A person is leaning down to grab the leash of a black Labrador service dog.
Inclusive Dining

Like any event at MCEC, food is one of our highlights, and it's something we pride ourselves on. It's not just about what we serve but the experience of enjoying it.

We made sure our catering services were accessible to everyone by:

  • Including tray service and high tables, perfect for accommodating attendees with mobility needs.

  • Offering custom menus that consider dietary restrictions and preferences.

  • Providing extra staff assistance during mealtimes to ensure every attendee felt supported and satisfied.

A women in a wheelchair is at the coffee stand. Another woman is standing behind the counter handing a cup to another person.
Navigating with Ease

Collaborating with Travellers Aid at the IMPACT 2024 Annual Conference brought a new level of mobility and accessibility to all attendees. Known for their expertise in assisting with public spaces and events, Travellers Aid is a trailblazer in accessibility services. Their vital offerings, including a buggy service for those with mobility needs, ensured visitors could navigate to and from the conference comfortably and easily.

"Our partnership with MCEC reinforces a shared commitment to accessible and inclusive events. Travellers Aid looks forward to this collaboration to better facilitate the practical needs of the 4.4 million people with disabilities within Australia, as well as our international visitors to Melbourne,”

- Elias Lebbos, CEO of Travellers Aid.

A driver in a high-vis orange vest driving a travellers aid cart with a passenger in the back outside MCEC.
Future Plans

Driven by a commitment to inclusivity and the invaluable partnerships our efforts will continue to evolve. We understand our role in creating experiences that are accessible and inclusive for our community, providing a space that gives everyone a sense of belonging, and creating event experiences that are truly welcoming for everyone.

A person is sitting in a wheelchair at the end of a row of green seats in a theatre. The seats are filler with people.

Discover how MCEC is enhancing your delegates' experiences through our commitment to inclusion, diversity, and sustainability .

Don't miss the opportunity to join us on 27 August 2024 for the Accessible & Inclusive Tourism Conference (AITCAP). Organised by GetAboutAble, this event offers invaluable insights and connections to enhance accessibility. Learn from industry leaders and tourism operators on a diverse range of themes. Secure your spot here