Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

Good News Week comments about children with autism just not funny

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities Bill Shorten has condemned comments made about children with autism on the ‘Good News Week’ program last night, but has commended Channel 10 for apologising to children with autism and their families.

Mr Shorten said that he had been in contact with parents who were upset about the way the program had portrayed children with autism.

‘I understand that the program pokes fun at the world, but I just do not think that children with a disability are the right subject for humour,’ Mr Shorten said.

‘Humour crosses the line when it is aimed at vulnerable people, like children with autism, and leaves them and their families distressed, humiliated, disempowered and embarrassed. It becomes a form of electronic bullying.’

‘Autism is a serious condition, and the ignorance and stereotypes that surround it cause huge damage to the families affected by it.’

‘Children with autism are unique individuals who should not be defined by their condition. Their parents already face enough difficulties and isolation without feeling mocked when they turn on the television.’

‘I want to see children with autism accepted and included in our society. This task is made harder when the media broadcasts outdated stereotypes.’

‘The comments last night should never have made it to air, but I am glad that Channel 10 has recognised this through their apology, and would urge them to look at what they can do to support people with autism and create a better understanding of their condition.’