We’re gearing up for the new season of The Bachelor Australia and despite the fact that the new lead has yet to be unveiled, I’m already yawning.

The series has given us the same cookie-cutter leads and contestants with the same predictable formula for almost 10 years now.

Sure, they added some much-needed diversity last year with Jimmy Nicholson and Brooke Blurton, but as evidenced by the ratings, that still wasn’t enough to revive the flailing franchise.

So one must wonder: what can be done to save the show? They’ve tried everything, right?

Nope, not everything. Despite their push for diversity, we still have yet to see a single person with a disability join the show as a lead or as a contestant.

Enter Jerusha Mather, a Melbourne-based neuroscientist, PhD student and disability advocate (her petition for more inclusivity on dating apps has amassed almost 3,000 signatures) with cerebral palsy.

Tired of the underrepresentation of people with disabilities on national television, Jerusha has put her hand up to be Australia’s first disabled Bachelorette.

“I’d love to see more disabled people on screen, especially on reality TV and dating shows, so that we can normalise people with disabilities and abled-bodied people in relationships and show the world that it’s in fact a blessing to have a disability.

“I love Bachie and it is so much fun, but I’ve felt predominantly underrepresented. I rarely see someone like myself on screen and this affects my self-esteem and self-worth to a degree. It’s quite disheartening and disappointing,” she said, adding that “it should be real and represent real life. That’s the beauty of watching reality TV. It should be relatable.”

In a recent interview with Daily Mail Australia, Brooke Blurton called for Australia’s first Bachie with a disability to help breathe new life into the show.

“I think they need to start incorporating more wholesome, intellectual conversations and people will resonate with that,” she said.

“They should be more diverse, show more normal people. We’ve had a woman of colour, bisexual… maybe change it up and have someone who maybe identifies different, maybe they/them, maybe someone who has a disability.”

Jerusha said she was “over the moon” to read this, adding that she “finally [feels] heard.”

“I’m super thankful to her for supporting the cause. She’s such a strong and beautiful person inside and out and she’s a role model to so many women,” Jerusha said.

Jerusha also reckons producers need to “ensure that the suitors are genuinely there to find love and aren’t there for the wrong reasons. I don’t want them to look at just the physical appearance of a person but most importantly their personality.

“When they’re selecting people, I’d love to see more down to earth and humble people on the show who have a story to tell and genuinely need some support in finding love.

“Ten should be more open-minded and make sure that accessibility is a priority. We need to see true and meaningful inclusion across all shows.”

Jerusha described her dating experience as a woman with a disability as “up and down”.

“Some people have been open-minded, kind and supportive but there’s others that have just left me feeling alone and rejected,” she said.

“I personally would love some support in finding love and I think doing it on screen will help people realise that even someone like me can find love. I wouldn’t mind becoming the first Bachelorette with a disability!”

“We are redefining what true beauty and attraction means. Even though I’m physically different doesn’t mean I’m not beautiful and worthy of finding love just like the next girl. I’m also capable of giving that to the right person,” Jerusha said.

“I’m really fun and energetic and love travelling and enjoy trying new activities. I’d love to be able to show that on screen! That even with my disability, I’m strong and capable.

“People shouldn’t feel sorry for me. I love my life and I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to have had unique experiences. I wake up with a smile on my face every morning.”

Jerusha revealed she’s been in touch with Warner Brothers, the company that produces The Bachelorette, about potentially becoming Australia’s first Bachie with a disability.

“They called me and said they’ll get back in touch with me once they receive a green light. I was speechless and very excited about it,” she said.

“If I become the Bachelorette, I promise to continue to stand for these changes and take diversity and inclusion to a whole new level.”

Hear, hear!

Check out Jerusha’s website and her social media pages @jerushamather.