“I never saw anyone with a disability on TV”

“I never saw anyone with a disability on TV”

“When I enrolled in uni, I never saw anyone with a disability on TV,” says News Breakfast reporter Charles Brice.

“So I went into wondering, ‘What if? Could it even be possible?’”

The answer was yes.

Brice has now been a South Australian reporter for News Breakfast for 2.5 years, covering news from Adelaide for the ABC morning show.

It was a chance meeting with former News Director Gaven Morris that led to the opportunity, fortuitous given he didn’t have any experience in television.

“I landed my first job in Adelaide, part time in digital.  I went into work on my day off to work on a story pitch and Gaven Morris just happened to be in Adelaide at the time. I had a quick five minute conversation with him,” he tells TV Tonight.

“A few weeks later I got a tap on the shoulder asking if I wanted an 8 week trial as a News Breakfast reporter.

“I came into it with absolutely zero TV experience so it’s been a huge learning curve, but I’ve loved every second of it.”

Brice followed a career in journalism after a motorbike accident in which he broke his neck, tragically ending any hope of career ambitions as a pilot.

“I had to come up with a plan B. Throughout hospital and my rehab I’d watch the news every day and took a bit of a liking to it. I figured it was something I could still physically do, so I enrolled in journalism,” he explains.

After studying at UniSA he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. As part of the News Breakfast team, he relishes the variety news brings.

“Interviewing Phil Liggett, the voice of cycling, while the Tour Down Under was on was a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment. But I don’t get excited around well-known politicians or what have you,” he continues.

“The stories of regular people in the streets who are doing amazing things is what really excites me. I did a story a couple of weeks ago about a 12 year old boy who has been caring for his younger brother and mum ever since he was four or five years old. They’re the ones that kind of stick out. I did a profile piece on an 83 year old aerobatic pilot.”

He admits to being a bit rusty in his early live crosses to the ABC team in Melbourne, but is now loving the work.

“I probably put a fair bit of pressure on myself to do well to try and get that eight weeks extended. There were certainly some nervous times and I remember, a couple of crosses that were just absolutely horrible. Just going completely blank and not remembering what to say,” he recalls.

“When you have those bad mornings or bad crosses the support here is great.

“In another hour’s time, you have another chance to sort of redeem yourself.”

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Does he see accessibility as improving in the media sector?

“I’ve only worked for the ABC and they’ve been really, really good to me both in Melbourne and Adelaide as well. Getting out to various jobs can sometimes be a bit tricky, but Adelaide is almost the flattest city in Australia. So it’s pretty decent on that front,” he insists.

“All in all, society’s changing quite a bit, and making adjustments.”

Around 18% of Australians are living with a disability. The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network, which spans broadcasters, screen funding agencies, business associations, guilds found 6.4% of the workforce to be people living with a disability.

ABC currently has 5.4% of its workforce as people living with a disibility with a target of 8%.

Brice believes representation on screen does make a difference to those who are watching and can see journalism as a career path.

“If there are other people in similar situations that can see me and think, ‘Yes, there is a career in journalism’ that’s a good thing.”

News Breakfast screens 6-9am weekdays on ABC / ABC News.