DRC Submission: Rights and attitudes
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Despite improvements in recent years, negative attitudes towards people living with disability persist. Many non-disabled Australians have limited understanding of inclusion and do not frequently interact with people who live with disability. Negative attitudes and a lack of understanding of the rights of people living with disability often go to the core of their mistreatment. Further, exclusionary practices – such as segregated schooling, housing, employment and social programs – are common and widely accepted as the norm. Some of these practices amount to violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation in and of themselves, while others increase the risk of such abuses occurring.
There is a need to change the mindset of Australians towards disability. The barriers faced by people living with disability are not the result of physical, intellectual or psychological impairments, but stem from the way society is structured and functions. Diversity needs to be promoted and accepted as the norm from an early age, particularly in the education system, so that the next generation will naturally adopt a more inclusive approach. Proactive steps must also be taken to introduce more accessible and inclusive practices and approaches throughout work and community life. A stronger advocacy system is also needed to provide vital support to individuals and their families, strengthen the overall response system and serve as a deterrent against future incidents of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
This submission makes a number of recommendations to improve attitudes towards people living with disability, increase understanding of (and respect for) their rights, and provide more comprehensive, accessible advocacy support in the case of rights violations.