Editorial – Disability and Human Rights (October-November 2012)

By Right Now

Throughout October and November 2012, Right Now focused on the theme of Disability and Human Rights in Australia.

We begin with David Donaldson’s explanation of the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme, which aims to create a fairer and more efficiency system of disability support. Holly Kendall explores, more broadly, the development of disability rights in Australia.

Bernadette McSherry, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for the Advancement of Law and Mental Health at Monash University, explains the current law and human rights implications of the involuntary detention of people with intellectual disabilities. Blair Morris tackles the similarly difficult issue of the chemical restraint of people with disabilities. In her compelling two-part feature ‘Silent Witness: Supporting People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System’, Karen Akehurst tells the stories of ‘Ben’ and other clients as she attempts to guide them through confusing and sometimes bizarre attempted prosecutions.

In ‘Superhuman: After the Paralympics’ David Donaldson reflects on the Paralympics – from wheelchair rugby to advertising – as promoting a positive approach to disability issues; while Hsin-Yi Lo seconds the admiration of Paralympians, who defy all odds to follow their dreams. And that admiration extends to those who took part in the ceremonies surrounding the Games, including British model, singer/songwriter and amputee Viktoria Moesta, who spoke with Right Now about her experiences.

Clare Varley interviewed Michelle Graeber, CEO of the Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria, about access to mental health support. In ‘Autism: The Disability of this Century’, Shae Courtney reports on the fastest growing disability in the Western World and implications for education.

Harold Hartfield reflects on inaccessible cinemas, and more generally on the right of those with a physical disability to access public places. To the online environment, Dr Scott Hollier explains the importance of supporting the web accessibility of people with disabilities, and frameworks for doing so. Next, we review the annual arts prize competition of Arts Access Australia – a disability-led organisation improving access to the arts for people living with disability – which attracted over 100 submissions, including ‘Spaceman’ reproduced above. Finally, Jess Kapuscinski Evans, artistic director of Theatre on Wheels, offers a personal reflection on the arts, disability and discrimination.


Review – Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia

By Georgia Cerni

Sophie Cousins’ book Renewal: Five Paths to a Fairer Australia is, in many respects, a proposal. For Cousins, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided Australians with an opportunity to reconsider the ways our society currently functions. Cousins aptly makes her case – while in some ways the pandemic reinforced burgeoning inequalities, it also presented us the chance to apply collectivist values to solve systemic problems.