Arts and Culture

Disability representation on Australian television slowly increasing but not by much

Posted on: Thu 27 Apr 2023

In April 2023, Screen Australia released their second report of the landmark, ground breaking research series, Seeing Ourselves, which investigates the level of on-screen diversity in Australian television drama programs and what the challenges and opportunities arise behind the scenes of telling authentic, realistic and diverse screen stories for historically under-represented communities.

Particularly encouraging, disability representation has slowly increased, compared to what was previously revealed in the inaugural study back in 2016, but according to the findings and qualitative data detailed in it’s current report, disabled main characters don’t feature prominently in seven out of ten titles (71%), with only 6.6% shown to be aligned to that specific aspect or facet in how they identify. It also signified that the number of disabled First Nations characters remain quite low (3.6%), while the rate of Anglo-Ceitic and European main characters was significantly higher than those that came from non-European backgrounds.

Fiona Tuomy is a disabled writer, producer, director, advocate and filmmaker based in Melbourne, who has worked on multiple disability-led creative and digital projects and spent years dedicating her career to advance inclusion in the screen industry. Tuomy spoke to De-Stigmatised‘s Jarad McLoughlin about how she became involved with the implementation of this report as a reviewer/consultant, while sharing her own insights on what still needs to be done to increase the presence and prevalence of disabled practitioners both in front and behind the camera.

Produced by Jarad McLoughlin

Photo courtesy of Dan Mahon

Jarad McLoughlin

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