ACT News

Funding shortfall for Canberra radio station could become nationwide problem

A funding shortfall which may force a Canberra-based disability radio station to cut its services will impact other stations around Australia, the Member for Ginninderra has warned.

Print handicapped radio station, Radio 1RPH, is losing a quarter of its funding leading to a warning other stations will ...
Print handicapped radio station, Radio 1RPH, is losing a quarter of its funding leading to a warning other stations will feel the cut. Robert Altamore who is vision impaired and also the vice-president of 1RPH's committee, listens to the station on his portable radio. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Canberra's print-handicapped radio station, Radio 1RPH will lose a quarter of its funding at the end of June this year, after its financial backing through Disability ACT is absorbed and redistributed under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Station volunteer and ACT Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne told the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday the funding freeze-out of disability service providers like 1RPH will become a "national problem" as the scheme rolls outs.

"The ACT [is] the first head to rest on the chopping block but with the rest of the rollout of the NDIS across other jurisdictions other radio for the print handicapped stations across the country will feel the cut in the time to come," Mrs Dunne said.

Radio 1RPH has an audience of about 50,000 people in a catchment area that includes Wagga Wagga and Junee, its president Lorraine Litster​ said.


But under the NDIS' new tiered model of funding, the station does not qualify for a slice of the mere $132 million allocated to agencies who provide services to people with disabilities.

A spokeswoman from the National Disability Insurance Agency told Fairfax Media on Wednesday they would continue to explore funding options for the radio station, which may include working with other federal and territory government agencies.

But ACT disability minister Dr Chris Bourke sidestepped Mrs Dunne's motion for the ACT Government to pick up the slack, instead promising to write to the federal disability minister.

Dr Bourke said the station would also be "prioritised" for funding allocated to assist agencies who don't fit the NDIS criteria to change their business model. 

While the amendment was carried, Mrs Dunne said she didn't believe it went far enough.

"There is no safety net for radio for the print-handicapped. They were given assurances by the Disability Council they were likely to be funded, that has proven not to be the case and what we're having here is platitudes and 'assurances' again from the government," she said. 

"This is not just a question in the future of radio for the print handicapped in the ACT and region, it is a question of the future for radio for the print handicapped across Australia."