Inclusive SA

Consultation and feedback on these guidelines

We heard from passionate South Australians during our consultation period for Report it Right: guidelines for portraying people with disability – including:

  • people living with disability
  • those who provide care to people with disability (parents, guardians and friends), and
  • people who work in the disability sector.

About the respondents

  • Respondents who indicated they had one or more disabilities: 55.6 per cent.
  • Respondents who indicated they worked in the disability sector: 22.2 per cent.
  • Respondents who indicated they had a close family member or friend who lives with a disability: 16.7 per cent.
  • Respondents who indicated they had an interest in the area but did not have lived experience of disability: 5.6 per cent.

Respondents' use of media

We asked respondents what (if any) media they engaged with (more than one option could be chosen from the list of media types):

  • Respondents who selected social media: 94.4 per cent.
  • Respondents who selected television: 72.2 per cent.
  • Respondents who selected newspapers: 61.1 per cent.
  • Respondents who selected radio: 61.1 per cent.
  • Respondents who selected podcasts: 38.9 per cent.

When we asked whether the media represented people with lived experience of disability in a positive way, 72.2 per cent of respondents indicated that it did not.

Quotes from respondents

Much reporting is deficit focused and uses language that is not appropriate - Amelia

There is a high level of patronising people with disabilities even if the intent is positive. Sometimes a disability might be the least interesting thing about the person and yet it is the focus. - 7even

The guidelines you have prepared reflect exactly my feelings on this topic. People with disabilities are infantilised or treated as heroic for living their lives. - Eliana

Although there has been progress in this area, it seems we still have a long way to go.

There has been much improvement in reporting over the years, but there remains a tendency to portray [people with disability] as victims or heroes. The best reporting avoids emotive language - Nicola

Language around disability has improved somewhat, although this depends: when a story is about issues with someone's equipment or government systems, words like 'confined' are still used to elicit emotion. TV channels like ABC have improved representation. - BeeMcDee

Could these guidelines improve community attitudes?

We asked whether these guidelines could improve community attitudes towards people with lived experience of disability, with 77.8% of respondents saying they could.

Any resources that can help people like myself that do not have a long history in the disability sector is a good thing. - BigKev

Improving media portrayal will help slowly but surely change the way people with a disability are seen by the wider community. – just16

I think they can definitely help because even as a disabled person, there were terms I didn't know were wrong or outdated, so it will benefit everyone in the long run. - Emily

Feedback on omissions

We also asked for feedback on what we had potentially missed in the guidelines, with some fantastic suggestions that we’ve taken onboard, including:

Misconceptions about living with disability

Finally, we asked what the biggest misconception was about living with disability:

That [people with disability] can't do much. They can’t work or live the same life as someone without a disability – Leasha

That we feel sorry for ourselves and are always looking for ways to be fixed. - Bridgett

That people with disability can’t lead full lives – for example, there is an assumption that people with a disability have no need to be taught about sexuality. - just16

That we choose this way of life. Dole bludgers. Less than human. Lower class. – Kristine

The biggest misconception about living with disabilities is you can’t do what normal people can. - Billy

Thank you to our respondents

The Department of Human Services thanks all those who took the time to participate in our consultation and for the valuable insights and feedback provided. These guidelines will continue to evolve as the community evolves and help shift the narrative about what it truly means to live with disability.

You can help to build a better community

What you report, how you report and how you decide to show people has an important impact on the public’s perception of disability.

By striving each day to report in a fair and appropriate way that considers the perspectives of people living with disability, you can help to build a more inclusive and just community.

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Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
26 Oct 2023
Printed on:
03 Dec 2023
The Inclusive SA website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016