The preamble to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities reminds us to recognise the evolutionary nature of the concept of disability and I-Day offers opportunity to reflect on our current understanding as a community.
Consider for a moment what opportunities may have been available to an 18 year old with an intellectual disability in 1979. Let's name this 18-year-old Sal.
Sal is likely to have been away from family to meet education needs in a segregated system with goals to enable a life of sheltered employment in institutional care. Sal is unlikely to have had much active participation in any of the decisions about these life goals and no options are likely to have been envisaged.
In 2020, in the ACT, Sal is entering adulthood hopefully having spent most time living in a home with family, attending school with supports to meet the learning needs Sal identified with the people who know Sal's preferences.
Sal is supported to identify choices based on values. Sal also has support to explore a range of employment opportunities and accommodations. Sal can look forward to health outcomes similar to those of other 18-year-old Australians. Sal participates in activities of personal choice, recognised and valued in community life. A welcome evolution.
The same document highlights the origin of disability as the interaction between people and attitudinal and environmental barriers. This is our stumbling block.
Barriers continue in every aspect of access to interaction with society and the services developed to remove these barriers and support people. ADACAS (ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service) advocate for individuals, and systemically enable human rights. They support people who are encountering barriers to equitable access to health, housing, justice, employment and community to make decisions about their own lives.
ADACAS appreciates all the help they get from individuals, colleagues, organisations and government and would like to think that one day they will be only occasionally necessary.
They said, "As individuals we should challenge our concepts of ability, as organisations we should act to enable participation and remove barriers and as a community we should consider how we can reach a future where we can assume that Sal has the support needed to participate in our society on an equal basis. Living in a Human Rights jurisdiction we are privileged to acknowledge the value of each person in our community as having equal rights. This I-Day let's each remove a barrier to assist another person exercising their human rights."
Find out more about ADACAS by phoning 6242 5060.