MEDIA RELEASE - FIFIELD GOES MISSING ON ACCESSIBLE COMMUNICATIONS - 24 OCTOBER 2018

Joint with Carol Brown, Shadow Minister for disability and carers. 

Minister Fifield has again failed to answer when work would conclude on vital communications services.

The new tender for the National Relay Service (NRS) closed in May this year, and while the current contracts are due to expire in January 2019, the Government has failed to finalise plans for the service.
 
“We’re hearing real concern from the community, they want to know what the future of accessible communications services will be,” said Shadow Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland.
 
The NRS is essential for Australians who are deaf, deafblind or who have speech impairment, looking to communicate over the telephone network.
 
Yet the Government has provided no further information about what future arrangements for the NRS will hold.
 
At the same time, when asked about work being done on Audio Description services for the blindness community, Minister Fifield could only limply respond:
 
“I’m not in a position to advise further.”
 
This is despite officials revealing Departmental advice has been on the Minister’s desk for several months.

“Minister Fifield has had the Working Group Report on Audio Description since May this year,” said Carol Brown, Shadow Minister for Disability and Carers.

“It’s completely unacceptable that after two trials, a consultation and a Departmental report, the Minister has no plans, over five months later”.

The ongoing lack of information from this Minister is extremely concerning. Australians with disabilities deserve better.

The Government needs to act to protect the rights of all Australians.

The Government needs to stand up and provide certainty on the future of accessible communications services in this country.