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Beginnings, a news website with big plans, kicks off today with information focused on serving people with disability in the ACT and its surrounds.

Editor Nic Stuart says will aim to fill a news 'desert' when it comes to the provision of news and relevant information for People with Disabilities (PwD).

"General news providers, especially the ABC and Guardian, have made real efforts to report on what is happening in the disability space. Other services provide information about the charity sector, and organisations often have newsletters with stories about their services", Stuart says. "What makes is different is that we aim to focus, first and foremost, on covering disability issues. We hope this will make us a one-stop shop for people wanting to understand what's happening in this changing and complex sector."

Stuart says the website will initially begin by focusing in on the ACT and its surrounding region. As the success of the project is established the idea is to gradually extend coverage to report on issues and challenges facing PwD all over Australia.

"People need information about the community in which they live, their physical location, and their 'disability community', others who share common physical or mental challenges. We aim to meet both these requirements", Stuart says, "although the way we achieve this will be by focusing on one unmet need at a time.

"People do not choose to have a disability. By treating disability as a 'knowledge problem' we can provide everybody with the information they need if they're going to live their best possible lives."


Editor Nic Stuart says the aim is to treat the site like a tech start-up.

"When Facebook began, it didn't look anything like the way it does now. We aim to change and evolve in response to the needs of the community we are built around - People with Disability."

Stuart uses a common analogy to describe this process of change.

"In the tech world they talk about 'building the airplane as you move down the runway'. Instead of attempting to get everything right before launch, the idea is to create a minimum viable product (MVP) and add on the bells and whistles as you go. The big advantage of this is that you can react immediately to suggestions and input from outside, adding to what works and jettisoning what doesn't."

"Most of all, this gives us the flexibility to be responsive", Stuart says.

"Our key task is to keep the needs of our community in mind. No other website is providing information specifically targeted for our audience."

Specific Focus

"We will report news when it happens. But what we will also do is put news events into context by providing background needed to understand the drivers behind the daily agenda. will aim to focus on different participants in the sector every day. Monday will typically be filled with stories about individuals, from the perspective of either people with disability or their carers. Tuesday will look at the challenges facing organisations and businesses in the sector. Wednesday will aim to carry reports on professional services or technical equipment. Thursday will provide a wrap about academic research, while Friday will cover politics and relevant regulatory issues.

Stuart insists that the ACT is an ideal place to begin a website like this.

"From where I write I can look up across the lake and see Federal Parliament, while if I turn my head slightly I can see the Legislative Assembly and looking further out I can see Queanbeyan and New South Wales. What's most important, however, is that this is a dynamic community of people who want to share and get involved. I can't think of a better place in Australia for us to begin."

Stuart is confident the website will succeed in its mission.

"With great backing from the Snow Foundation, Hands Across Canberra, and the John James Foundation, and such a great community to support, we need to succeed."

Stuart added he looked forward to becoming part of a growing community in this space.

Stuart welcomes anyone wanting to help with the website, no matter how great or small their experience, to get in touch with him at or on 04 10 278 827.

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