Nov 23, 2017

Razer: Coles’ autism initiative is fine but only because it’s ‘an improvement on zero’

A recent change to 68 supermarkets has been reported in a way that eclipses the need for broad structural changes, writes Helen Razer.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Back in August this year, a not-for-profit teamed up with a big brand to achieve a social good. This is not uncommon. Ours is a present where the finance sector endorses same-sex marriage, a weapons manufacturer supports a People’s Climate March and the obscenely rich guy that runs Amazon sought to “expand English learning opportunities worldwide”. These are partnerships that aim for what some might call inclusive ends.

When the organisation Aspect announced a scheme called “Quiet Hour” in partnership with Coles Supermarkets, media interest was largely niche. But, this week, the program, which seeks to reduce the intensity of light and sound that may trouble some with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has received wide attention. Now that 68 Coles stores have agreed to dim lights and muffle Coles Radio for an hour on Tuesday mornings, at least 68 media outlets celebrated.

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