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14    Communications—Television—Audio Description Services

Senator Siewert, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 808—That the Senate—

    (a)   notes:

                  (i)   that audio description (AD) is a flexible and unobtrusive way of making the visual content of television accessible to people who are blind or have low vision,

                 (ii)   that modelling undertaken by Vision Australia shows that there are approximately 350 000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision, with this number estimated to increase to 564 000 by 2030,

                (iii)   that under Article 30(b) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Australia has ratified, the Government has an obligation to ensure that people with disabilities have access to television programs,

                (iv)   that Part 9D of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 includes requirements for the provision of captions on television programs in order to make them accessible to people who are deaf or hearing-impaired,

                 (v)   that, despite a successful trial of AD conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 2012, the ABC does not provide AD on any of its free-to-air television services,

                (vi)   that the ABC is currently conducting a government-funded 15 month trial of AD on its ABC iview catch-up service, but that many people who are blind or have low vision experience significant barriers to accessing ABC iview, and

               (vii)   that the Special Broadcasting Service, Foxtel, and the commercial free-to-air television networks provide no AD in Australia;

    (b)   expresses concern that Australians who are blind or have low vision are disadvantaged because Australia lags behind many other countries, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Spain and New Zealand, which all provide varying levels of AD on television programs; and

     (c)   calls on the Government to amend the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to include requirements for the provision of AD on free-to-air and subscription television programs by the ABC and all other networks, similar to captioning requirements.

Statement by leave : The Assistant Minister for Social Services (Senator Fifield), by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.

Question put and passed.