Broader Social Change under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth): The Importance of Adopting a Rights-Based Approach

November 11, 2015

Angela Liantzakis a current Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of International Relations student at La Trobe University writes: 

Disability is experienced by one in five Australians. Many Australians with disabilities, as well as their families, friends and carers, are facing discrimination despite legislation to address this. The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA), Australia’s key legislative mechanism for protecting the rights of people with disabilities, does not adequately provide for broader social change despite its aims.  The DDA works largely by allowing individual complaints to be made.

The protection of disability rights under the DDA could be improved by adopting a human rights-based approach in order to achieve broad societal change.  It involves turning human rights from purely legal instruments into effective policies, practices, and practical realities, and provides a theoretical framework and practical guidance to do so. It requires society, particularly governments, to actively take measures to create inclusive societies with equal opportunities and full participation for people with disabilities.  This approach has the transformative potential to create broad societal change rather than responding to individual claims of discrimination as they arise.

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