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Disability Rights


“We each have diverse goals and aspirations, and we all deserve the opportunity to achieve them.”
DACSSA Advocate”

Everyone has the right to participate freely in their community and to have input in the decisions that affect aspects of their lives. Physical limitations, discrimination and difficulties accessing necessary supports are just a few issues that limit the opportunities of people with disability to participate equally in the community.

This can affect things such as the ability to live independently, work, find employment, study, and socialise.

Our snapshot of Disability in Australia helps to highlight the importance of many issues of disability and emphasises our need to continue to advocate on behalf of all people living with disability, to work towards eliminating the inequalities and vulnerabilities faced by so many.

Our Response to Disability Abuse is a framework that can be used when you feel a person’s rights may be being infringed upon, providing prompts to work through situations, respond, and gain support to assist the person with disability.

What is Disability?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 defines ‘disability’ as:

  • when a person loses a functional ability (physical or mental)
  • when a person is without part or all of limb or body part (e.g. through amputation or disease)
  • when a person has organisms in their body causing disease or illness; or
  • when a person has organisms in their body that could cause disease or illness; or
  • when a person has a part of their body that is malformed, disfigured or malfunctions; or
  • when a person has a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction; or
  • when a person has a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person’s
    • thought processes
    • how they perceive reality
    • emotions or judgment or
  • results in disturbed behaviour

It includes a disability that:

  • presently exists; or
  • previously existed but no longer exists; or
  • may exist in the future (including because of the likelihood of disability e.g. genetics); or
  • is attributed to a person. This might happen in cases where there isn’t a formal diagnosis.

For a snapshot of disability in Australia, please refer to our Disability in Australia page.

Disability Rights

There are three main pillars that hold up and shape how we promote the rights of Australians living with disability:

  1. In Australia, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 protects people across Australia from unfair treatment and promotes equal rights, equal opportunity and equal access for people with disabilities.
  2. Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in 2008, a convention that sets out the role of governments to be able to do this.
  3. Disability Inclusion Act SA 2018

The United Nations has put together a great visual resource outlining the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

- Human Rights

Australia is party to seven human rights treaties. The rights of people with disability are contained within the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) .

The CRPD requires countries to ensure and promote all human rights. This includes fundamental human rights of people with disability to live free of discrimination on the basis of their disability.  This convention relates to Australia’s obligations for ensuring people with disability have access to:

  • Accommodation
  • Consultation and involvement
  • Living and participation in life
  • Equal protection and equal benefit of the law
  • Community inclusion and enjoyment
  • Entitlements to services
  • Supports like health and education
  • Appropriate help for women and children with disability
  • Appropriate support for First Nations Peoples

- Disability Discrimination Act

The Act makes disability discrimination unlawful. It promotes equal rights, equal opportunity and equal access for people with disabilities.

- Disability Inclusion Act

The Disability Inclusion Act replaces the former Disability Services Act 1993 and aims to ensure that services and facilities are accessible and responsive to people with disability.

It ensures that service providers, Government organisations and councils make communities more inclusive and accessible for people with disability now and into the future. It also regulates the provision of specialist disability services provided, in order to better safeguard for these services.

Examples of Disability Rights

  1. Ability to use guide dogs and assistance animals.
  2. Ability to have support in a community class to reduce the impact of disability, in order to understand and perform activities at their own level of ability.
  3. Feel safe where they live.
  4. Be able to have personal care attended to and have adequate support and equipment to participate, such as transferring out of bed to sit in living room, or go back to bed when tired.
  5. Understand and have input in decisions (such as financial, medical, accommodation, social) that are being made which impact your life.

Although DACSSA is not a legal service, the Rights of people with disability frames everything we do. We rely on these and our values of social justice to support you.

Should you require legal assistance, we have included legal contacts and resources on this website. Please contact us should you need further assistance in finding legal services.

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