ability.news has only been made possible by the generous contributions of three Canberra Foundations. They deserve our great thanks for their wonderful backing!
The idea had been kicking around Nic Stuart's head for a while.
"I'd was a Director of the House With No Steps (now Aruma, one of Australia's largest disability support providers) and was part of a small sub-committee working on how the organisation would change as the NDIS rolled out across the country. I began to realise one of the huge problems facing people with disability was understanding just what supports were on offer."
Stuart had himself attempted to navigate this terrain after he was badly injured in a car crash while working as an ABC Correspondent in Thailand. He says that finding appropriate supports was incredibly difficult in those early internet days.
In 2015 Stuart spent a term as a Press Fellow at Wolfson College Cambridge, before receiving a Churchill Fellowship to study long-term disability support for people with a brain injury. He says it was then that the critical role of information in assisting people to live with a disability suddenly came to him.
"I realised that nobody wanted second-rate supports. Everybody wanted the best, most appropriate care they could get. The critical issue was information. For many people, living their best lives was an information problem. They needed to find the right care for them but, unless they were lucky, this was often extremely difficult. The information just wasn't there."
Stuart says the development of Internet 2.0 dramatically changed the range of possibilities for people to exchange and share information.
"Quite suddenly information exploded. You now had fewer gatekeepers deciding what would (and wouldn't) make it onto the net and a genuine marketplace had come into existence. What was missing was a guide to which service was solid and reputable, and what was not. That's when I began thinking about how ability.news could fit into this picture. To offer a reputable guide to inform, connect and empower people with disability and their supporters."
"We created ability.news to fill a critical need but, by itself, that wasn't enough. Our site is here thanks to the wonderful foresight of three wonderful organisations that have taken an idea and brought it to reality."
But just having an idea didn't create a website - particularly one that would be bigger than one person. And this is where the Hands Across Canberra yearly grant round provided an opportunity.
Three of the ACT's biggest charitable institutions - Hands Across Canberra, the Snow Foundation, and the John James Foundation - had realised that every year they were receiving applications from the same organisations with similar requests for support. So a few years ago they decided to work together so they could collaborate on supporting causes they felt were right for them individually, while also minimising the amount of paperwork flying around the capital. Luckily for ability.news, all three Foundations decided to back the website proposal.
"The backing we've received from the Foundations is wonderful", says Stuart. "Now all we've got to do is make the website a success. And the only way to make that happen is with your help and assistance. So if you have an idea, or a suggestion, please get in touch using the links below."
Editor Nic Stuart can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on 04 10 278 827.