Aust struggling to meet disability rights

About half of the 4.3 million people with a disability have experienced violence, a new report has revealed. Picture: File image/Getty
About half of the 4.3 million people with a disability have experienced violence, a new report has revealed. Picture: File image/Getty

AUSTRALIA is struggling to meet its international obligations to people with disabilities to give them a choice about where they live, a royal commission has been told.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires all signatories, including Australia, to recognise the equal rights of all people with disability to live in the community with choice equal to others.

“It is very problematic. It translates to the experience for people with disability of not being able to come out of hospitals after traumatic injury,” human rights lawyer Rosemary Kayess told the disability royal commission on Friday.

“The jurisprudence around Article 19 is very clear, that if a person does not have choice, and it shouldn’t be a first binary choice, that mechanisms that tie bricks and mortar to support and don’t give people choice as to where they live are not acceptable.”

The lack of choice comes back to marginalisation with parallel but different systems for people living with a disability, she said.

“Those parallel systems have reinforced notions of deficit and difference, and that because people with disability are different, we can have a different standard for how their domains are framed for them,” Ms Kayess said via videolink.

Further clients may get a “false choice” of provider at a group home as one agency may do the work for everyone, rather than let the individual make a choice.

“So even though technically people should be able to get a choice, their choice is a kind of false choice because we don’t have the stock of accessible and affordable housing, mainstream housing. So group homes become the default option,” she added.

“If it ends up being a choice of one agency for the whole group home, then they may not get a choice about which actual person does work with them.”

But there isn’t anything in the Australian legal jurisdictions that would stop any judicial officer from not taking notice of the convention and the rights Australia has signed up to, she added.

The royal commission’s week-long hearing focusing on group homes, which typically house four-to-six people with disabilities, wraps up on Friday.

— AAP