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If you’ve ever been in a busy crowd at a festival or sporting game, you’ll have an idea of what sensory overload can feel like. Bright lights, strong smells, people in your personal space. For people with sensory-based disabilities, that feeling of sensory overload can happen often. A standard fluorescent light can flicker like a strobe light, music can be loud and distracting and smells can be extremely strong and overwhelming.
For those experiencing this, it’s a daily challenge; preventing them from tasks that many of us take for granted, like going to the shops or out for a meal. We all have a part to play in creating welcoming and inclusive communities, and at Charter
Hall, one way we do this is through our Quiet Hour initiative.
Recently reintroduced at Adelaide’s Brickworks Marketplace, following a pause due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety requirements, it’s one of the country’s first retail centres to implement this initiative regularly. On the last Monday
of every month, from 10:30 to 11:30am, the centre goes quiet – lights are turned down, music and public announcements silenced, sounds on checkouts lowered and restocking paused.
“We feel this is a really important step towards bringing our community together. It raises awareness for many people living with disabilities, and assists in bringing convenience to our community,” explains Brickworks Marketplace Centre Manager Abby Farley.
“We understand that by recognising the challenges some individuals and families experience within the regular shopping environment and by making small changes for one hour in Quiet Hour, we are a creating a calm and welcoming experience.”
To bring Quiet Hour to life we partnered with Cara, one of South Australia’s leading disability service providers, as well as all our tenant customers – from our major retailers to speciality stores.
“We’ve been part of this campaign for quite some time now and it’s really good for our community and our customers,” says Big W Brickworks Marketplace Store Manager Paul Lagos.
“Here at Big W, we turn the lights on at 50%, we remove all our balloons, we keep the PAs to a minimum and use our push-to-talks to communicate with each other. It just makes it really peaceful and pleasurable for our customers to shop.”
Tony & Marks Brickworks Marketplace Store Manager Jim Ninos agrees: “We’re honoured to be part of this initiative, it’s important that we take care of everyone’s needs in the community. At Tony & Marks we dim the lights and turn off the music and the PA. This allows the customer to float around and enjoy their shopping without any of that extra noise that usually is quite prominent.”
During Quiet Hour everyone is welcome to shop – it’s not restricted and there is no need to book. Together with our tenant customers, we’ll continue to unite as a community to create a respectful space for all shoppers.