Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Exploring improved communications access for disabled Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy - Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

The Rudd Government is investigating new ways to improve access to communications services and technologies for people with disabilities.

“Communications services and technologies are vital tools for everyday life and enablers for the many benefits of the digital economy, including new opportunities in business, health care and education,” said Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

“It is important that accessible, affordable and readily available communications services and technologies are within easy reach of all Australians, including those with disabilities.”

Senator Conroy today announced a feasibility study into a new disability equipment program to operate independent of telecommunications carriers.

Major carriers currently operate disability equipment programs that provide specialised equipment to enable fixed phone access for people with disabilities.

The feasibility study will investigate the efficiency of the current arrangements, an analysis of emerging technologies and demand, projected costs and funding options.

Senator Conroy and Mr Shorten today addressed the Signposts for Change: People with Disabilities and Telecommunications Forum in Melbourne.

“It is vital for the rights of people with disability that they are able to access all services provided to the community and use those services in full,” Mr Shorten said.

“The Rudd Government is committed to finding ways to reduce this indirect discrimination against people with disability.”

“Access to affordable communications products and services can help to lessen some of the additional challenges faced by people with disabilities,” Senator Conroy said.

“This Forum is a valuable opportunity to set an agenda and begin consultation for enhancing the lives of people with disabilities through more accessible communications services and technology.”