Lisa Chesters with Bill Shorten in Bendigo. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visited Bendigo on Monday to lobby for funding for Vision Australia Radio.

Offering a service that includes reading newspapers to blind and vision-impaired people, Vision Australia has 700,000 listeners nationwide.

In his role as Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Government Services, Mr Shorten said that a modest amount of money would make sure this service could continue.

“Vision Australia Radio is run on a shoestring budget and its future is in jeopardy because of changes the federal government has made when it is rolling out the new NDIS,” Mr Shorten said.

Senator Jane Hume said the government recognises the valuable service provided by community broadcasting to groups not serviced by commercial radio.

“The Community Broadcasting Program is administered by the Community Broadcasting Foundation, an independent not-for-profit agency. This agency seeks, secures and distributes funding to support community broadcasting in Australia,” Senator Hume said.

“Its decisions are made independent of government,” Senator Hume said.

Vision Australia Radio is seeking $700,000 a year to maintain its current operations.

“This is one of the best uses of scarce taxpayer money that I can think of,” Mr Shorten said.

Manager of government advocacy and relations at Vision Australia Chris Edwards, who lives with low vision, said the service allows people to hear the news, as it is, the same way that someone who is sighted reads the newspaper.

“Without Vision Australia Radio, people like myself wouldn’t remain connected with the community and would be more isolated,” Mr Edwards said.

Vision Australia currently receives $1.3 million to deliver radio for the print handicapped services and $1.4 million per year until 2021 to deliver the Print Disability Services Program to produce material in alternative formats for people with print disability.

– NICHOLAS NAKOS