Centred on inclusion

8 March 2013

Graeme Innes
Graeme Innes

A new centre aimed at increasing the social and economic inclusion of Australians living with disabilities was launched last night, at the University of Sydney by the Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
The Centre for Disability Research and Policy brings together the University's broad expertise in disability and disability services. The centre aims to assist national and regional efforts to redress the imbalances faced by people living with disabilities equalising their opportunities for employment, education and social inclusion.
A recent World Report on Disability suggested that more than a billion people worldwide experience disability and the figure is likely to increase due to population ageing, growth in chronic health conditions and in response to trends in environmental factors.
As many as 19 percent of Australians have a disability. Fifteen percent experience disability lasting five years or longer and are living with long-term physical, sensory, intellectual or mental disability or chronic health conditions. Young disabled Australians are particularly vulnerable.
According to centre director, Professor Gwynnyth Llewellyn, while the social inclusion of young disabled Australians is improving on many levels, they are still much more likely to be disadvantaged in areas of income, work, education, safety and support than their non-disabled peers.
"This new centre is about enabling people with disabilities to realise their potential and participate productively in society.
"Many people with impairments tell us that it is not the condition itself which hinders their progress, but rather the way society restricts them from controlling and planning their own life," said Professor Llewellyn.
"Our research will be targeted at real-world analyses and on providing practical policy solutions to governments, service providers and policy makers," said Professor Llewellyn an internationally recognised expert on families and disability and on disability and disadvantage.
Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, who will officially launched the centre, says social exclusion leads to poor outcomes, such as lower educational achievement and unemployment.
"It affects not only the health and wellbeing of the individual but also impacts on their family and the wider community.
"The inability of people with disabilities to participate socially and economically is a loss to the whole of society."
Federal Minister for Human Services Senator Kim Carr, said the Government would work to help the Centre's researchers access data that could support their work.
"The Department of Human Services has a wealth of information about Australians' interaction with social services. The Centrelink program alone has more than 3 million gigabytes of data.
"Our mission is to enable the Centre to strengthen its research by accessing this data. In turn, we will welcome research that reinforces the Government's commitment to those living with a disability."