This presentation discusses community living in the context of the transformative equality framework provided in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). It compares this framework with ‘ableism’, and argues that despite ten years since Australia’s ratification of the CRPD, ‘ableism’ is thwarting action towards genuine community living for people with disability.

The presentation highlights how actions driven by the Australian disability reform agenda, through the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (NDS) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) do not embed transformative equality. It points to a critical reframing of the NDS and the NDIS guided by the recent General Comment prepared by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on article 19, Living independently and being included in the community.

Three starting points are offered to achieve better evidence and outcomes to progress community living for people with disability, with a critical element being recognition of the expertise of people with disability and their representative organisations, or Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) in leading and co-producing research, law, policy and practice.


Therese Sands
Director, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia

Biography: Therese Sands is the Director of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), an alliance of four national organisations constituted and led by people with disability. She has worked for 25 years in education, policy development, capacity building and advocacy in the area of disability and human rights.

Therese’s passion for human rights began at the Australian Human Rights Commission where she worked on the awareness campaign for the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). Through her work, she has gained extensive theoretical and practical experience of United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms, and how to use UN mechanisms to further domestic advocacy for the rights of people with disability.

Therese has a Master of Human Rights Law and Policy, and won the University of NSW Law School Public Defender’s Prize in 2012. She is a Life Member of People with Disability Australia (PWDA) and a member of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).


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