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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

National Companion Card launch means greater inclusion for people with disability

Joint Media Release with:

  • Lisa Neville, Victorian Minister for Community Services

Australians with severe disabilities will find it easier to attend sporting and cultural events without paying for an extra ticket for their carer, after the launch of the National Companion Card in Melbourne today.

Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten, and Victorian Minister for Community Services, Lisa Neville, today launched the National Companion Card as part of celebrations for the International Day of People with Disability.

The National Companion Card Scheme is a culmination of years of work by Federal, State and Territory governments to make it easier for people with disability to attend sporting and entertainment events across Australia.

‘Some 32,000 card holders and their carer can now enjoy increased participation in the community,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘People with disability have the same right to get out and enjoy a concert or a football game as the rest of the community, and this scheme removes one of the obstacles in their way.

‘More than 2,700 businesses have thrown their support behind the Companion Card and their collaboration is crucial to its success.

‘To coincide with the national launch it is exciting that a number of big-name businesses have joined, including the AFL, Basketball Australia, Tennis Australia, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Reading Cinemas, Circus OZ, Fitness First Australia, Circus Royale, Event Cinemas and the Australian Ballet,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘The Australian Government has invested $1.8 million towards the Companion Card to enable people with a disability to receive the same entitlements across all states and territories.

Ms Neville said Victoria had pioneered the Companion Card program and paved the way for the introduction of the scheme to other states and territories.

‘Since 2003, the Companion Card has been assisting eligible Victorians with disability to participate in activities and events without being unfairly slugged the cost of an extra ticket for their attendant carer,’ Ms Neville said.

‘The Companion Card scheme, originally conceived as a part of the Government’s 10 year State Disability Plan, which was launched in 2002.

‘We can be proud that Victorian innovation and leadership in this area has contributed to improving the lives of so many people with disability across the country,’ Ms Neville said.

Mr Shorten said December 3rd was a day to celebrate and acknowledge the achievements and contributions of people with disability, here and around the world.

‘The International Day of People with Disability unites people around the world, promotes inclusion and awareness of disability issues and highlights the contribution people with disability make to their community locally, nationally and internationally,’ Mr Shorten said.

More information on the National Companion Card (www.companioncard.gov.au).