Roz Hammond and Bridie McKim star as Claudia and Sabine Rosso in the TV series The Heights. Supplied by ABC-TV.
Roz Hammond and Bridie McKim star as Claudia and Sabine Rosso in the TV series The Heights. Supplied by ABC-TV.

The Heights star works to enable better view of disabilities

Australia still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity on our screens, says actor Bridie McKim.

The Brisbane native, who has mild cerebral palsy, landed her first TV role last year during her final year at NIDA in the ABC series The Heights.

McKim plays high school student Sabine, who also has cerebral palsy and lives with her recently divorced mother Claudia (Roz Hammond), in the 30-part serial drama, which follows the work lives and everyday challenges faced by six families living in the Arcadia social housing tower and the gentrifying inner-city district that surrounds it - Arcadia Heights.

"Disability is one of the biggest minorities in our community. Almost 20 percent of our population is disabled, but we have so few disabled characters on television. It baffles me,” she says. "The representation is so few and far between. Yes it's kind of sad it's the case at the moment but we have just got to keep moving forward.”

The second half of season one returns with a double episode on Friday. Following on from the mid-season finale, Sabine breaks up with her boyfriend Dane and is mortified to find out he has shared an intimate photo of her with her fellow students.

"The fact that the whole situation does become a bit messy is a real indication that we are exploring things that are really truthful,” she says.

"Even people with the best intentions, like her best friend Mich, just don't get it right. It's especially important in situations like this that young women in particular need to be supported and empowered. There are some really confronting things Sabine has to deal with.

"It's such a privilege to play a character like Sabine, who has a disability but is so well-rounded. There is so much to Sabine that reflects all parts of her life; she isn't only personified by her disability. It's a real honour as a disabled actor to play someone like that because it's the truest reflection of disability - your life isn't your disability - and it's awesome that's the case with Sabine.”

The Heights airs on Fridays at 8.30pm on ABCTV.