What is the Attitude Foundation’s purpose?
“The biggest challenge for Australia is to provide an environment for change which allows for a cultural shift across all parts of our society. Active participation of those with a disability in society generally can only occur with a change in attitude. This is something that can’t be legislated; people need to see the reason why change is important.”
(Disability Expectations: Investing in a better life, a stronger Australia, PWC, November 2011)
Community attitudes can slow change
The best way to change attitudes is by improving understanding of people with disability and breaking down three major misunderstandings:
- Stereotypes about people with disability that they are either inspirational when they do ordinary things (otherwise known as “inspiration porn” arising from “low expectations”) or they are objects of pity because they are “suffering” from their disability.
- Disability being viewed through a medical model where the disability is the problem and needs to be fixed. This is contrasted with the social model where we recognise that people are different and that society needs to be modified to ensure all people can participate.
- Assumption that all disabilities are visible (such as wheelchair users, assistance dogs, hearing aids) whereas the majority of disabilities are not visible and include mental health conditions, cognitive or intellectual disability, as well as hearing and vision impairments.
How will the Attitude Foundation change attitudes?
There are many organisations that focus on different aspects of improving disabled access to work, entertainment, education, government, travel, accommodation and housing. Attitude Foundation is looking at how people with a disability are portrayed in the media and how we can ensure that there are more realistic inclusions of people with a disability in media. We believe that media can be a very powerful tool to change Australians' attitudes towards people with disability.
Our Changing Attitudes section outlines the current issues and problems around the inclusion of people with disabilities in the media. We also show examples of how inclusion can actually change attitudes.
Changing attitudes through the TV series
Our major strategy is to make a television series about people with disabilities telling their own stories in a non-sensationalist way. Televised content is powerful and can change people’s thinking, attitudes and behaviour.
The content and targeted focus we propose is essential to spark conversations, deliver subtle messaging and position people with disability as role models, leaders and to be successful in life.
The Foundation is seeking financial support for the key activities that are outlined in the Attitude Foundation Business Case Summary:
- Production of a major television series of up to 13 episodes, including a pilot episode
- Creation of a web portal for online viewing, including full accessibility (audio description and captioning)
- Commission of a research program to measure the effectiveness of the campaign in promoting attitudinal change