Joint media release
Senator the Hon Stephen Conroy
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity
Senator the Hon Jan McLucas
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers
Gillard Government to improve telecommunications services for vulnerable Australians
Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today announced that the Government will accept all recommendations made in a report aimed at improving telecommunication services for vulnerable Australians.
The recommendations in the Review of Access to Telecommunication Services by People with Disability, Older Australians and People Experiencing Illness include:
- Testing how the National Relay Service could be improved through the use of new technologies and new services;
- Strengthening consultation between industry, the community and the government to explore how new communications services can better support people with disabilities, older Australians, and people experience illness;
- Improving the information available to vulnerable Australians to help them make use of everyday telecommunications products; and
- Facilitating periodic discussions between the government and stakeholders about current and emerging telecommunications access issues.
“Telecommunications technology is advancing at a rapid rate, so it’s important to explore how it can be used to improve services to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.
“The review found that the National Relay Service is highly valued by people who are hearing impaired, but that it could be improved by additional services.
“The Government accepts all of the report’s recommendations. Therefore, the Telecommunications Universal Services Management Agency will shortly be releasing a tender for an enhanced NRS,” Senator Conroy said.
Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas said, “Implementing the recommendations is another step the Gillard Government is taking to improve access to communication services for vulnerable Australians.
“All Australians have a right to access telecommunications services, including people with a disability, older Australians and people experiencing illness,” Senator McLucas said.
“The recommendations are in line with the National Disability Strategy, a ten year reform plan will help ensure that mainstream services and programs including healthcare, housing, transport, education and communications address the needs of people with disability.”
Senator McLucas said the Australian Government is working hard to break down barriers that people with disability may face in the community.
“An audio description trial is currently taking place to provide a better television watching experience for Australians with a visual impairment. Our government has also supported Australians with a hearing impairment by boosting captioning requirements on commercial, national and subscription television broadcasters.”
Senator Conroy acknowledged the significant contribution of so many people who gave their time to this review, conducted by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.
“Over 60 submissions were received and many people gave their time to talk about their own personal experiences and needs,” he said.
A copy of the report can be found at: www.dbcde.gov.au/disability
Date: 15 August 2012
Contact: Adam Sims (Senator Conroy’s Office) 0408 258 457
Belinda Featherstone (Senator McLucas’s office) 0408 743 457