Why we need more people with disability appearing in the media and the – Ausnew Home Care

Why we need more people with disability appearing in the media and the ABC's IDPwD initiatives to be more inclusive

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They are the words that shatter the lives of hundreds of Australians every year.

Those words take away your dreams, steal your independence and strip you of a livelihood you had come to know so well.

Those words leave you with little hope for the future.

Those words, said to me by a top spinal specialist at the age of 19 after I had lain motionless on a hospital gurney for hours, landed a blow unmatched by any heavyweight boxer.

Tears instantly filled my eyes, denial filled my heart.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever live my with a disability — who does?

But, in a split second, that is exactly what happened.

I was thrown from my motorbike during a routine ride with friends on a farming property in the South Australian Mallee region, landing head-first into the soft sand just a short distance from home.

It took around 30 minutes for the sound of an approaching motorbike to break the silence of the calm country air, but it was the sound of safety, the sound of life over death.

Unbeknownst to me, I had shattered two vertebrae in my neck and completely severed my spinal cord, leaving me a quadriplegic.

A brunette man laying in a hospital bed with a clear plastic pipe coming out of his mouth
I was told in hospital that I would never walk again.(



Soon after those fateful words from my doctor, I was sedated, ventilated and operated on, and was kept alive by machines and staff in ICU for 52 days before I called the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre home for the next 14 months.

My desired pathway through life had significantly changed — I was part-way through getting my pilot's licence with plans to become a commercial pilot.

So I began trying to put the puzzle back together, or at least sorting through the pieces.

Throughout my time in hospital, there was not a lot to do.

TV became my entertainment and episodes of Family Guy frequented.

The first episode I watched featured a wheelchair-using police officer suddenly being able to walk again, the irony leaving me with a smile.

But there was one program fixed to the screen more than any others — the news.

My thirst for news grew to new heights and shortly before I was discharged from rehabilitation, I enrolled in a journalism degree at university.

People with disability scarce in the media

I backed my ability to complete the degree but throughout my studies I always wondered if I would be employed in the industry I was so fond of.

Not once did I see a piece-to-camera, a live cross or a newsreader who used a wheelchair.

Even Auslan interpreters were nowhere to be seen.

I was amazed to learn in the mid-2010s that ABC journalist Nas Campanella, then a Triple J newsreader, was blind.

To me, she was the pioneer and she sounded just like other radio newsreaders around the country — professional.

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ABC journalist Nas Campanella is blind and uses an audio speech program to help her read the radio news bulletin.

It proved two things.

That people with disability belong in Australian media industry, as we are just as capable as our able-bodied counterparts.

And it proves that there are major news organisations who are willing to employ people with disability.

That. in itself, gives hope to those of us who want a career in media, or in fact across any field.

I am now a digital producer for the ABC in Adelaide.

My role is to write news stories and produce other journalist's work for ABC News Digital and it is a job I am loving.

International Day of People with Disability

On December 3, the world celebrated International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD).

The day aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance and to celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disability.

This year the ABC partnered with IDPwD to showcase the creative work of emerging content makers living with a disability on a national platform.

A range of ABC programs across radio, television and online featured people with a disability, including producers, co-hosts, writers and artists.

This great initiative was unrivalled by other media.

Emma Myers is an ABC Regional Storyteller Scholarship winner and produced a radio series called Disabling the Norm, which shares the experiences of women with disability.

A lady sitting on a chair next to an ABC microphone.
Emma Myers has produced content across the ABC exploring various issues around disability.(



She has cerebral palsy and has just completed her studies at the University of Newcastle and is looking to pursue a career in the media.

She also produced a report for News Breakfast, looking into disabilities within comedy.

ABC Geraldton reporter Chris Kerr presented the regional, statewide Mornings program in Western Australia.

Chris Kerr has been in a wheelchair for more than 20 years as a result of injuries sustained in a horseriding accident and has previously worked with the ABC in the International Development program.

A man sits side on to the camera with Mount Panorama in the background.
Angus Thompson wrote and featured in a five-part comedy series.(



Angus Thompson lives with cerebral palsy and is another ABC Regional Storyteller Scholarship winner.

The comedian wrote and featured in his series Terrible Pauly, which reviews household items for their accessibility for someone living with a disability.

His five-part series can be viewed on ABC iview, Facebook and YouTube.

A man sits on the ground next to his wheelchair.
I returned to the site of my accident as part of a story with Landline.(



I was fortunate enough to take part in IDPwD away from my role as digital producer.

I was instead in front of a camera and presenting Landline, a TV program covering regional and rural issues and events.

Landline was showcasing two stories relating to disability in rural areas.

Being in front of the camera for Landline has been the highlight of my journalism career to date, knowing just how rare the opportunity to present the program is.

I am proud to have hosted the show and I am chuffed that the ABC gave me the chance as it demonstrates that the ABC values employees with a disability.


Source: ABC

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