Join the fight to end violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability by engaging with the Disability Royal Commission.

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Disability rights in Australia

We live in an ableist world, designed to support the needs of abled people. Our housing, our education system, our healthcare, our justice system, our workplaces, our shops, our communities, are all designed with the abilities and capacities of abled people in mind.

This means that people with disability can experience discrimination, segregation and double standards every day, in every aspect of our lives, and this is simply accepted by many people as “normal”.

It’s important to remember that this doesn’t have to be “normal”. The way our systems and our community are set up is a series of choices made by governments and policy makers.

More than that, the Australian Government is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This means Australian governments are supposed to ensure that people with disability in Australia can enjoy rich and fulfilling lives, equal to others in society.

Australia is committed to a very specific set of standards when it comes to our inclusion and access, and these standards are not currently being met. The UN looked at Australia’s compliance with the convention in 2019, and has reminded our country that it needs to get better at ensuring our rights.

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What are your rights?

The CRPD contains detailed information on the rights of people with disability, and you can look at the full document in:

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Some of our rights that are important to know about are:

  • The right to access our community.
  • The right to inclusive education.
  • The right to the effective enjoyment of life on an equal basis with others.
  • The right to equal recognition before the law.
  • The right to access justice on an equal basis with others.
  • The right to liberty and security of person.
  • The right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • The right to freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse.
  • The right to respect for our physical and mental integrity.
  • The right to live independently and be included in the community (this includes the right to choose our place of residence and where and with whom we live on an equal basis with others).
  • The right to personal mobility (including access to affordable mobility equipment).
  • The right to freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information (including accessible formatting of information).
  • The right to respect for privacy.
  • The right to respect for home and the family (this includes reproductive rights, and the right to live free of discrimination in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships).
  • The right to health, including the right to live free of discriminatory denial of health care or health services or food and fluids on the basis of disability.
  • The right to work on an equal basis with others, including the right to freely chose work in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible.
    The right to an adequate standard of living and social protection.

Your rights and the Disability Royal Commission

The Disability Royal Commission is committed to investigating the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability within a rights framework, so the individual commissioners will be very familiar with the CRPD.

The Disability Royal Commission is primarily focused on our right to live free of violence, exploitation and abuse, but there are other rights set out in the CRPD that are important to keep in mind as we think about different kinds of abuse and neglect, and where they can occur.

For example, we know that the choices of people with disability who live in congregate living situations, like group homes, may be limited based on the schedules or preferences of support staff. For instance, a person may not be able to leave their home because a support worker is not available. In this situation, we can see that the person is being deprived of their right to access their environment and their right to be included in the community, which is a form of neglect.

Another example is situations that can occur in health settings. We have a right to health care on an equal basis with others, but sometimes medical settings may be inaccessible, or doctors may choose not to investigate a person’s symptoms because they assume they are part of having a disability. This is a form of neglect.

If you are thinking about making a submission to the Disability Royal Commission, it might be good to have a think about your rights and the ways our systems are failing to uphold them.

What needs to be done differently to ensure your rights are being upheld?

Information on how to make a submission to the Disability Royal Commission can be found here.

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