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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5907

ADDRESS AT OPENING OF CAPTION CENTRE, SYDNEY

Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/09/1982

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 5907

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PRIME MINISTER
FOR MEDIA 10INDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER 1982
ADDRESS AT OPENING OF CAPTION CENTRE, SYDNEY
The opening of the Australian Caption Centre is an event of
great importance to Australia. Over 800,000 people in Australia
suffer from impaired hearing, many of those people will be
helped enormously by the establishment of the Australian
Caption Centre.
SFor the first time they will be able to watch and understand
television by way of captions which will be picked up by special
decoding devices attached to their television sets. Th e captions
won't be visible to other viewers.
In order to help promote this service the Commonwealth
Government last year provided significant funds to assist
with the setting up of the Caption Centre. This year we are
providing further funds to the Australian Caption Centre
for the provision of further facilities for caption television
programs. As well as supporting the Australian Caption Centre the
Commonwealth provides the ABC with additional support to
enable it to broadcast for seven hours a week caption programs
in Sydney and Melbourne. This service is expected to begin
in April of next year. The commercial television stations have
so far not made any decisions about the use of captions but I
hope that before too long and once there is total agreement on
the kind of technology which ought to be used, ' but interpolating.
and not captioned, I agree with the remarks that have been said
about delay. There is always going to be new technology coming.,
forward, there will always be better ways of doing it if you wait
a while. This has been delayed a long while already and I don't
believe that there is any excuse for further delay by the ABC
or by commercial stations on the grounds of technology.
Those with hearing difficulties will be able to, benefit as
much from television as the rest of us do. That is the objective
that we want to pursue and want to achieve. I hope therefore
that caption television will eventually be available on all
television stations.
My colleague the Minister for Communications, has discussed
this issue with the commercial television stations to obtain
a clearer idea of the problems they see on implementing closed
captioning on their programs. The Minister is examining urgently
the issue of Australia adopting an industry wide standard for.
captioning technology and the question of whether the Australian
Broadcasting Tribunal should hold an inquiry into the wider
introduction of closed captioning for the hearing impaired. ./ 2

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Neil Brown who is here will be making an announcement on both'
of these matters very soon.
Television has become by far the most popular and in many
respects the most influential source of information and entertainment
in Australia and any section of the community which is unable
to benefit from television is certainly at a disadvantage.
Again, interpolating and not captioned, as a politician I think.
television has a great many advantages because if you go on
' live' people see what you say and the way you say it, or hear
what you way and the way you say it and it is not interpreted
as so often what politicians say is interpreted. So in the
interests of overall accuracy and getting a fair judgement of
whether it is State or Federal politicians or whoever else,
that accuracy ought to be available to the 800,000 to 1 million
people who have impaired hearing and who at the moment have to
rely on the print media.
The Caption Centre will help deaf people overcome that particular
disadvantage that they have. It will enable them not only to keep
in touch more easily with current events, but it will
also help to make them more aware of various entitlements from
Government. That is particularly important at a time like this
just after the introduction of a Commonwealth Budget. People
do need to be aware of the services and of the programs that
are available if there are adjustments that affect them because
one of the things that we found in recent times is the programs
can be introduced by state or by Commonwealth and even though
it might be advertising in relation to it, there is still an
enormous gap in the awareness of average Australians as to their
entitlements under the programs. Without captioning, up to a
million people are going to be in a more difficult position in
finding out what their entitlements. than the rest of us.
The benefits-of new programs are obviously going to be better
understood once television stations generally undertake
captioning. This is. one of the responsibilities of Government
but I think it is also the responsibility of television stations
S and the media generally to help get the message across. That
is another important and serious reason why not just the ABC but
commercial television stations ought to adopt captioning as soon
as possible. I am sorry for that interpolation again, with future
technology there will be a way of immediate captioning and picking
up what one says and translating that into a caption so that you
don't need typists or shorthand writers or whatever.
In helping with the establishment of the Caption Centre the
Government has been, able to make an important contribution
to makinr sure that all sections of the community are aware of the
facts and are aware of their entitlements. The commitment by
the Government to the Caption Centre is also indicative of our
overall commitment to a caring society in which people who are
in any way disadvantaged should be able to live as normal a life,. I
as possible with every support from the community. In the case
of the disabled they should be able to enjoy a meaningful home
life and participate in all social, creative and recreational
activities. That is a right to which all Australians are entitled
and one which the Government will do everything in its power to
meet.

There is an enormous amount, and again interpolating, of public
education involved in this, the education of other people of
what the difficulties are and how those difficulties can be
overcome. I can remember John Hickman, as a quadriplegic
and then as a lecturer at the Australian National Univeristy
in his book ' One Step at a Time' describing some of his
own experiences. He saw an advertisement in a newspaper of
one of the major retail stores who had advertised special
parking space for disabled people and it was going to be reserved
for them close to the shopping centre so they wouldn't have to
move too far to go and make their purchases. He thought this was
great, and he pulled up his car and got into his chair and then
found that there was no way at all that he could get from that
parking centre into the shopping centre because there were steps
which you couldn't put a wheel chair up or down. It wasn't
a question of anyone having done that deliberately it was a
question of lack of knowledge, lack of understanding of the
efforts all of us can make which can contribute to disabled
people-whatever the disablement might be-leading a more active
and more participatory life in the normal life of the community.
This Caption Centre and its work and the adoption of captions
in television stations will do much not only to help disabled
people in this case, those of the hearing impaired enjoy the
programs, it will do a great deal I believe to help educate
other Australians in ways which will assist disabled people
to lead fuller lives within the Australian community.
In opening this morning the Australian Caption Centre
I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of all those
people who over the past few years worked so hard to lay the
groundwork for the establishment of this service. They have
shown a dedication and a determination to give hearing impaired
people real access to television and I am delighted to see that
their efforts have been so successful. I pay tribute to them
and I am glad they have been so persistent and it has been an
honour for the Government to be able to provide some support
S to make the opening of this centre a practical possibility.
It is now going to be open for the ABC and to commercial interests
to take advahtage of the opportunities that have been provided
to demonstrate that they also are very much part of a caring
society. It is with very great pleasure that I declare open the Australian
Caption Centre.

Transcript 5907