By Ben Signor
The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013 opened new doors for disabled people in Australia, allowing new levels of equity, independence, and participation in society. However, it also created a new funding model that threatened the survival of many smaller disability providers.
Radio 1RPH is a not-for-profit, community radio reading service that informs and entertains listeners across Canberra, as well as the Wagga Wagga and Junee regions of NSW, by turning print into sound. It is part of the RPH network that extends to all of Australia’s capital cities and to major regional centres in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.
1RPH has a band of loyal listeners and volunteers who have kept the station broadcasting for more than four decades. Upon the introduction of the NDIS however, the ACT Government removed significant financial support.
1RPH president, Sandra Purser said the station has struggled to survive in recent years.
“Unlike its capital city counterparts, [1RPH] has failed to secure substantial bequests,” Ms Purser said.
“The station is supported by sponsorships, memberships, donations, and a small annual grant from the Federal Government.
“More recently, support has been received from the Chief Minister’s Fund through Hands Across Canberra which seeks to support Canberra based charities.”
Ms Purser said 1RPH received a total of $15,000 from Hands Across Canberra through social media fundraising, a grant, and a prize for ‘most unique small charity’.
“We’ve also been fortunate enough to receive support from some businesses across Canberra,” Ms Purser said.
“Just recently, we received donations from the MG Car Club Canberra and the Gungahlin Lions Club, we are a participant of the Southern Cross Club community rewards program, and we are the Canberra Bridge Club’s chosen charity for the year.”
1RPH vice-president and longtime listener, Robert Altamore said it is vital that the station remains viable as it provides an service that is particularly useful for elderly people with vision loss.
“Many elderly people now use the internet and social media for information and entertainment. However, they still feel more comfortable with the traditional media of radio and television,” Mr Altamore said.
“Radio 1RPH gives older people access to information not otherwise available to them so they know what is happening in their suburb, in Canberra and around the world.
“This means they can share this information with family and friends and participate more fully in social and community life.
“There is also something special about being read to by another person.”
Radio 1RPH broadcasts on 1125AM and DAB+ in the ACT, as well as in Wagga Wagga on 89.5FM and in Junee on 99.5FM. It can also be accessed on the Community Radio Plus mobile app or through the station’s website at www.radio1rph.org.au.