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Australian Parliament House, Canberra

Bill Shorten MP

Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services
Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction 

Friday 11th December, 2009 

Last Thursday was International Day of People with Disability. This day was an opportunity to recognise the contribution that people with disability make in many areas of Australian life. I know that there were hundreds of events organised across Australia and the day is getting bigger and bigger each year.

We chose the day to formally launch the National Companion Card scheme – delivering on a key  2007 election commitment. This builds on the various state schemes that allow people with serious disabilities who require a carer to attend sporting and cultural events without paying for the cost of the carer’s ticket. It’s about recognising that people with a disability have the right to enjoy sporting and cultural events without being burdened with additional costs. Over 2,700 organisations have signed up so far, 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.

Other news you will also find in this bulletin includes the release of the Disability Investment Group’s report into long-term disability support; a new inquiry into improving access to television, cinema and other electronic media for people with hearing or vision impairment. On something of a less positive note, there is also a report on a disappointing incident involving the discount airline, Jetstar.

You will find more information on these items below.

PS – You can now find me on facebook! Check out my page at www.facebook.com

National Companion Card Scheme 

Australians with severe disabilities will find it easier to attend sporting and cultural events, thanks to the new National Companion Card Scheme announced in Melbourne as part of the International Day of People with a Disability celebrations.

The new scheme builds on existing State based schemes, and will allow people who require a carer to attend events without the need to purchase a separate ticket for their carer.

The scheme benefits some 32,000 cardholders and over 2,700 organisations are supporting the card, 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.

Click here for more information

Affiliate Organisations: Are you involved with a business, organisation, venue, event or activity that charges an admission or participation fee? The success of the Companion Card Scheme depends on its affiliate organisations. If you would like to join the 2,700 other organisations that support the Companion Card Scheme, or to find out more information, click this link.

Disability Investment Group Report

International Day of People With a Disability also saw the release of the Disability Investment Group’s report into how we best support people with disability in the long-term. The report’s key recommendation was that we conduct an inquiry into a disability insurance scheme. The good news is this will happen: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on November 23rd that the Productivity Commission would undertake a full investigation and report back to Government by July 2011.

DIG’s report contains several other recommendations, and is the product of fantastic work by the group chaired by Ian Silk.

Below is the link to the media release that Minister Macklin and I put out on the report, as well as a link to the report in full.

Click here to read the media release
Click here to read the full report

Other News 

Improving access to TV and cinema for the hearing and vision impaired
Jetstar called on to give better service to people with disabilities
2010 Vancouver Winter Paralympic team unveiled

 

Latest Disability Speeches 

November 25th: Speech at the announcement of the Australian Winter Paralympic team



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