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Quick Escape

Fighting for the right to authentic inclusion

Six disabled people of color smile and pose in front of a concrete wall. Five people stand in the back, with the Black woman in the center holding up a chalkboard sign reading

“PWDA would like the Disability Royal Commission to examine the ways in which people with disability are actively excluded in essential areas of life. We want segregated systems phased out, and universal access as the standard.”

The Disability Royal Commission has released a summary of responses to its issues paper on “Promoting Inclusion”. Issues papers are used to gather information to assist the Royal Commission in its investigation of the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation carried out against people with disability. It has received 74 responses to the paper on inclusion, some from people with disability and many from sector and advocacy organisations, including PWDA.

PWDA has asked the Disability Royal Commission to think about how our leaders, political commentators and the general public talk about the inclusion of people with disability. We ask them to consider how mainstream systems (like housing, education, employment and transport) are not initially designed with people with disability in mind. When our inclusion is eventually considered, it is often an afterthought, often resulting in tokenistic attempts at ‘inclusion’ for the sake of appearances.

Sometimes, access and inclusion might be technically available, but only when people with disability make special efforts to arrange it in advance. Because we are not included in standard planning for events, government procedures, website design, etc., the cost of access (in time and effort, and often also in money) is much higher for people with disability. Many of us simply don’t have the resources to go through this for everything we need.

We often find ourselves uncomfortably framed as an inconvenience or burden for expecting access to the same services and information as everyone else. Yet the true burden, the never-ending fight for access on an equal basis, and the emotional toll of being overlooked and excluded, is consistently forced onto people with disability.

Inclusion as an afterthought has also resulted in many ‘special’ or segregated systems for people with disability. Some examples of this are special schools, group homes where people do not get to choose where they live or who they live with, and exploitative workplaces that can legally pay as little as one dollar an hour to employees with disability.

Segregated systems create environments that operate outside of ‘normal’ society, where reasonable standards are expected to apply. Violence and abuse occurs more easily in these spaces, hidden from plain view.

We would like the Disability Royal Commission to examine the ways in which people with disability are actively excluded in essential areas of life. We want segregated systems phased out, and universal access to be the standard.

We want authentic inclusion of people with disability, where we are actively involved in the design of new systems from the ground up.

We want to see the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability (CRPD) – which has been ratified by the Australian Government and identifies inclusion as a key underlying principle – properly implemented in Australian law.

The Disability Royal Commission is holding a short hearing on the implementation of the CRPD in Australian law, policy and practices on 8-9 November, which we will be live tweeting here. Find out more at our Human Rights issues page. PWDA vice-president Kelly Cox and our Senior Research and Policy Officer Frances Quan Farrant will be part of a panel at the hearing, talking about our advocacy work around the CRPD. Look out for more about that on our social media in the lead-up to the hearing! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

You can find the Disability Royal Commission’s summary of responses to the ‘Promoting Inclusion’ issues paper here.

PWDA’s responses to Disability Royal Commission issues papers can be found here.

The widely supported sector position paper on ending segregation of people with disability in Australia can be found here.

For media enquiries contact:

People with Disability Australia

Senior Manager Media and Communications

Mobile: 0491 034 479