MEDIA RELEASE: Open Doors paves way for better reporting on disability

Queenslanders with Disability Network is pleased to be part of the project Open Doors, launched on Monday 10 July by the Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alistair McEwin, to develop positive

media reporting around people with a disability.

Griffith University journalism students are at the forefront of a campaign to improve media representation of people with a disability.

QDN Board of Directors Chairperson Nigel Webb said at the launch, “For the past 40 years people with disability have been ‘coming out’ in every facet of their lives.  Out of institutional settings, out of their homes and importantly, out of the shadows of difference. Media can investigate issues of policy change and explain to the public the benefits and/or limitations for vulnerable persons and importantly seek out alternative perspectives. Media can play a significant role in shifting community perceptions and awareness to bring about positive change for an inclusive community.”

Project coordinator and Radio and Television Journalism Lecturer Faith Valencia says the goal of the project is to change the way people with a disability and their families, carers and support workers are represented in the media.

“The common media stereotypes of reporting of people with a disability can be to portray them as victims or villains. Often reporting is patronising and deficiency-based. People are cast as ‘others’ if they are even noticed at all,’’ she said.
“The media has an important responsibility to represent the reality of people’s lives, not some imagined reality”.

“The students involved in Project Open Doors will work closely with people who have lived experience of disability, providing not only a voice, but an avenue to actively guide and develop positive media coverage.”

“They will report and publish a variety of stories on the Project Open Doors website.”

Project Open Doors partners include the Queensland Anti-discrimination CommissionEndeavour FoundationQueenslanders with Disability NetworkSporting Wheelies and Disabled AssociationSUFYDeaf Services Queensland and WWILD.

Working together to change the way the disability community is reported in the media, and perceived by the community at large, project partners are providing opportunities for students to hone their skills, developing a body of media reporting around disability, building on existing reporting guidelines and empowering people with a disability to engage with media.

QDN is pleased to be part of this project, and thanks QDN members who were speakers at the launch on 10 July and have contributed to the project including Nigel Webb (Chairperson, QDN Board of Directors), Donna Best, Rob Ellis, Willie Prince, Sharon and John O’Shea, Denver Irwin, Geoff Cooper and QDN staff Sharyn McManus and Paige Armstrong (Chief Executive Officer).

Mr  Webb said “that inclusion in the media matters for people with disability. It is important for the media to dispel the myth of ‘other’ as being seen as ‘pity or charity’ and embrace success to lift people out of shadows and demonstrate possibility and positivity to everyone.”

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