People with disabilities are significantly under-represented on Australian TV. “Seeing Ourselves”, a five-year report into diversity in Australian TV drama, released by Screen Australia, highlights this problem according to the Attitude Foundation.
"Only 4% of main characters had an identified disability, compared to 18% of us in the population," said Graeme Innes AM, Foundation Chair. "This is unacceptable if we are to play an equal role in Australian society," he said.
This report is the most significant study of diversity on Australian screens since television began. It finds that only 10% of dramas had at least one character with a disability, and many of those roles were played by people without disabilities.
"The representation of people with disabilities in the media plays a major role in shaping Australian's understanding of disability, and overcoming many barriers that exclude us," Mr Innes said. "It's unreal, unwelcome, and must change," he said.
The Attitude Foundation will change attitudes to disability through the media, by stimulating a culture of acceptance, and inclusion of people with disabilities. We are developing a television documentary series which will give a voice to the 4 million Australians with disabilities, by sharing our powerful stories, told by us.
We need the support of the Australian media. This report is a wake-up call for the industry to increase the appearance of people with disabilities, both on and off-screen. Participation of people with disabilities must become part of media activities and decisions at all levels.
Read the report for yourself and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.