Call for more people with disabilities on TV

Royal Commission is told more diversity in TV & advertising would help address unemployment for people with disabilities.

Television and advertising should lift the numbers of people with disabilities if Australia hopes to increase employment numbers, a Royal Commission has been told.

53.4% of people living with disabilities are unemployed in Australia, a figure which hasn’t lifted in decades.

Dr. Graeme Innes, a Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner, told the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability on Monday, “You can’t be what you can’t see, so we need to see people with disabilities employed in jobs.

“We need to see people with disabilities on our television screens, in our advertising and out and about in the general population.”

In a 2014 study of 199 television dramas, Screen Australia found only 4 per cent of characters had an identified disability compared to an estimated 18 per cent of Australians.

Dr. Innes said the public’s familiarity with people like Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott and comedian Hannah Gadsby (who has autism) was a sign of positive change.

“We need to continue that momentum,” he said.

“People will only declare they have disabilities to employers when they see at a micro level with a particular employer or at the macro level in the general community people with disabilities being included and accepted as part of the Australian community.”

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, ABC

7 Responses

  1. ABC News has several reporters with a variety of disabilities, all of whom are just regular reporters reporting a wide range of stories.
    What we need to see is people with disabilites in other shows like the soapies and dramas but not highlighting their disability. TV producers seem to think the way to portray a disability is to put the character in a wheelchair and give them a tragic accident as a back story!
    Just let people be themselves!

  2. I was watching ABC News Melbourne on Monday night at 7pm with Tamara (a bulletin a seldom watch – nothing against it) and was blown away by the inclusion and diversity. A vision impaired reporter I think (reporting on a vision disability story too) and the young Asian-Australian weather man. So good, you’d never see at commercials. Instantly impressed and would be the sole return factor for mine.

  3. The 2012 Paralympics did so much to change things in the UK – all started off by broadcaster C4 but it’s now rarer not to have a disabled participant in a major reality show than not too. Still work to do regarding presenting talent and roles in scripted content though.

    If you want a bit of joy look up Rose on Strictly Come Dancing – the shows first deaf contestant and absolutely nailing it.

  4. Kudos to ABC Adelaide and Charles Brice. On air almost daily from across Adelaide and S.A. in all weather, considering “There’s not a word that encapsulates the sudden inability to move a muscle, but “lonely” comes close. After reaching for my pocket to retrieve my phone, I realised my body refused to obey me. Unable to call for help, I was forced to wait for someone to arrive, with only an immense sense of isolation and a wandering mind for company. So there I was, Charles Brice: a motorbike rider, a footballer, a brother and a son, laying face up in the dirt, fighting for every breath of air”.

  5. Wage subsidies and funding for necessary equipment and retrofittings for buildings and vehicles may be available for employers who are willing to hire persons with disabilities or special needs.

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