Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Shining a light on Social Transformation

This report was commissioned by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. It investigates the early rights movement of people with disability from the 1960s and 1970s through to the present day, which “exposed the power relations inherent to the medical model of disability, commonly referred to as ‘ableism’”.

The report acknowledges that the disability rights movement in Australia has driven important policy and legislative reform for people with disability. However, ‘it has not led to the social transformation required’ by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Australia has not made enough progress in achieving rights for people with disability over the last 60 years. In fact, the report suggested that Australia’s interpretation of the UNCRPD was allowing human rights violations. Violations include indefinite detention, forced treatment and medical interventions of people with disability, and  further showed that segregated and parallel systems enable violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The report recommends a new focus. This focus should recognise impairment as a ‘valued part of human diversity and human dignity’ that accepts people with disability as ‘critical to all aspects of life’.

Rosemary Kayess and Therese Sands
University of NSW Social Policy Research Centre
Friday 18th September, 2020

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