By Ben Signor
The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in 2013 opened new doors for people with disabilities in Australia, enabling new levels of equity, independence and participation in society. However, it also created a new funding model that threatened the survival of many small disability providers.
Radio 1RPH is a non-profit community radio reading service that informs and entertains listeners in Canberra, and the Wagga Wagga and Junee areas of NSW, by turning print into sound. It is part of the RPH network which spans all Australian capital cities and major regional centers in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.
1RPH has a loyal group of listeners and volunteers who have kept the station on the air for over four decades. However, when introducing the NDIS, the ACT government removed significant financial support.
1RPH President Sandra Purser said the station has struggled to survive in recent years.
“Unlike its counterparts in the capital, [1RPH] 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 had received a total of $15,000 from Hands Across Canberra through social media fundraising, a grant and an award for the ‘most unique small charity’.
“We have also been fortunate to receive support from some businesses in Canberra,” Ms Purser said.
“Just recently we received donations from MG Car Club Canberra and the Gungahlin Lions Club, we are participating in the Southern Cross Club Community Awards program and we are the Canberra Bridge Club’s chosen charity for the year.”
1RPH Vice President and long-time listener Robert Altamore said it was vital the station remained viable as it provided a particularly useful service to seniors with vision loss.
“Many seniors 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 suburbs, 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’s also something special about being read to by another person.”
Radio 1RPH broadcasts on 1125 AM and DAB+ in the ACT, as well as Wagga Wagga on 89.5FM and Junee on 99.5FM. It can also be accessed on the Community Radio Plus mobile app or on the station’s website at www.radio1rph.org.au.