Thank you very much, and- I think – thank you to James for that introduction. I have to say no-one has ever compared me to Tony Abbott before, I’ll put that down as a first.
Thank you for the passion that you have clearly shown for this project. An important project that I am extremely excited about and I feel very privileged to be at this launch.
I would like to thank Jack Buckskin in his absence for his welcome to country, here on Kaurna country and pay my respects to elders past and present, and acknowledge and respect all First Nations people here at the conference today.
I also acknowledge all the people with disability and their families and carers who have contributed to this project. This is a really significant project and your effort and commitment – I can’t remember quite how you described it James – blood, sweat and tears I think? – which has resulted in today, a day to celebrate.
Powerd Media, as you have just heard, is the new media platform by - and for - people with disability, showcasing disability created and themed content.
It is – as James said - filling a huge gap in the media market promoting new content that tells authentic stories of disability by people with disability.
And it connects audiences with the information and services they need.
So this is a really big hole in the market and one that I am so pleased that Powerd Media is going to fill.
Powerd Media seeks to fill a gap in media by and for people with disability.
The website will feature content produced by people with disability across screen, audio, podcasts and articles.
The audience is out there, James alluded to it.
When you have 4.4 million people in this country identifying with a disability, as community broadcasters, you would know better than anyone that that is your community and that is also your audience.
There is a huge opportunity and an interest in this content, even before you start to appeal to the broader community.
And that broader appeal of the content that you create will be so important because there are many people hungry to engage in that content.
It is certainly needed out there.
It’s through sharing stories that we learn about the world and one another.
Having access to stories that include the diversity of people of with disability and that their lived experience has the power to challenge community attitudes and community thinking.
And that’s really one of the key elements to this. How do we change community attitudes, because that is the way to a more inclusive society?
This is important in ensuring that we take one step further to having a better society that recognises everyone equally.
We do know that people with disability are under-represented in media.
The latest Screen Australia report Seeing Ourselves describes it as ‘critically low’.
We are not seeing true reflections of our society in the media.
With three quarters of programs not featuring any main characters with disability according to their report.
The Screen Australia report notes that this is due to the ‘persistence of systemic barriers in the screen industry for disabled people’.
To address this - the reports states we need to drive diversity by employing more people with disability as producers, commissioners, creatives – and, importantly, in leadership positions.
Which is exactly what Powerd Media is doing.
As community broadcasters you play such a vital role in reflecting Australian stories.
With one in six Australians living with a disability, your organisations play such a powerful role in changing opportunity for people with disability.
Now Powerd aims to maximise employment of people with disability in all activities and create pathways for employment for people with disability.
And it is not just about employment, it is about careers.
There are massive benefits to Australia if there are more people with disability in the workforce.
These benefits extend not just to the person with disability, but to the employer, the wider community and the Australian economy as a whole.
Meaningful employment can be a positive part of life for a person with disability, bringing opportunities for economic security, fulfilment and social connection.
It can enable people to plan for the future, to have more choice and control over their lives.
But for employers – at a time when businesses across the nation are struggling with workforce shortages, skills shortages, employers should be looking at the untapped potential of people with disability as a tremendous opportunity.
Because we know that diverse teams are good for business, and inclusive workplaces result in happier staff and improved performance.
As James mentioned, knowing all of this, our unemployment rate for people with disability is more than double that of people without disability. And it has not changed in over two decades.
And those with a disability aged 15-24 are twice as likely to be unemployed as those with a disability aged 25-64.
That’s often because there remains a lack of awareness of disability in the community which leads to low expectations.
And partly because employers don’t have the confidence.
This new initiative tackles both of these issues.
Importantly, the community attitudes piece, but importantly also employing a pathway to employment. The program does include an internship program to give people their first chance in the industry and improve the transition from education to employment for young people.
It will improve pathways and access to further education and training, which will increase employment options.
And it will provide support to employers on how to become an accessible, supportive workplace for people with disability.
So that employers can recognise and value the benefits of employing people with disability and confidently support them.
Which, ultimately, should lead to an increase in representation of people with disability in leadership roles.
Of course, ultimately, Powerd Media has the potential to make powerful change, which is all in line with Australia’s Disability Strategy – our national framework to improve the lives of people with disability and create a more inclusive society.
That’s why we’re so proud to support Powerd Media through our Building Employer Confidence and Inclusion in Disability Program.
I did also want to share a personal story. I know Sam is coming up soon, so I’m just really the warm up act for this, but I did want to share another story that I was told – that of Emily Quattrochi from Victoria, she is a wheelchair user and aspiring film maker with her own YouTube channel.
She has the talent and is backing it up with Film and TV Masters at the Victorian College of the Arts.
Like many courses, this one requires students to complete practical training in industry.
Emily faced challenges to finding an accessible and welcoming workplace.
It was thanks to Melbourne’s Community TV C31, with the support of Powerd Media, that she got her first opportunity.
They lived their values of supporting content creators from all walks of life to connect with audiences and develop skills.
With a bit of support from Powered in making sure the space and opportunity was accessible, they invited Emily to participate in their Emerging Voices Project
And it paid off.
Thanks to this program, Emily completed her 12 week internship and is on track to conclude her Masters.
Her talent has already been spotted and she is now engaged with a commercial producer, Humdinger, producing content for the Powerd Media website.
So this is a tangible example of how that pathway, how opening that door can make such a huge difference.
Like so many young people with disabilities, Emily just needed someone to take a chance on her and show a little bit of extra understanding.
Now, the funding for the Powerd Media project has enabled Channel 31 to confidently provide more opportunities.
Which is helping talented filmmakers like Emily get screen credits and helping them on their pathway to a career in the industry.
This story perfectly sums up our vision for disability employment. That’s where everyone has the right to work.
They should be able to enjoy access to opportunities that not only allow them to get employment, but to get a career, to achieve their goals and dreams.
So this is an exciting time and of course, I know the media isn’t only about representation, it’s about accountability.
I understand that part of this initiative is to have a journalist with disability based in Canberra to report on disability affairs.
This had been made possible by support from the prestigious Walkley Foundation.
So having a journalist with disability in our nation’s capital – means all us politicians will be held to account.
Another example of how Powerd Media is allowing that platform for people with disability to have their voice heard.
This is an exciting initiative, I hope you all in this room, leverage this content and promote it across your networks take the opportunity that Powerd provides.
You are the people that can amplify these stories and contribute to the success of this initiative.
Thank you for everything you do.
I look forward to continuing to hear the success of this wonderful initiative.