Shopfront celebrates 'Access & Inclusion' exhibition launch
UTS Shopfront celebrated International Day of People with Disability with Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner and UTS staff and students at a new exhibition about inclusion at UTS which launched on December 5.
With one in five Australians currently living with a disability, International Day of People with a Disability, held annually on December 3, aims to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability. The theme for 2017 was “transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all."
UTS Shopfront marked the day with the launch of 'Access Leads to Inclusion: Disability at UTS', an exhibition on the experiences of people with disability to raise awareness and knowledge about inclusion and access at the University.
Launching the exhibition, Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr. Alastair McEwin said, “One person can make a huge difference in society and that is why it's so important for UTS to continue helping individuals reach their potential by providing education for all, and making it accessible for everyone, especially for those with a disability."
The movement towards universal access is part of an overarching National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 aimed at improving the lives of people with disability, their families and carers and is based on changes envisaged in the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education and Students), Professor Shirley Alexander, who not only introduced the launch, but features as one of the subjects in the exhibition said, "We must continue to remove barriers to employment and career development for people with disability. It is these factors, and not the person themselves, that is the disabling factor."
Dr Naomi Malone, curator of the exhibition, said the principle of universal inclusion was central to her motivation behind the creation of the exhibition.
“People with disability exist everywhere, meaning access requirements for these people need to be met to ensure their inclusion and participation in the community,” she said. “After all, where there is access, there is inclusion.”
From 2013 to 2017, UTS Shopfront supported Naomi’s PhD research on the history of deaf education in NSW and the social movements that have stemmed from deaf, hearing impaired and hard of hearing communities in advocating for improved deaf education.
In November, Commissioner McEwin released 'Working towards Equality for People with Disability', which outlines the 'big issues' facing people with disability such as education, housing, the criminal justice system, implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), violence and employment.
“It was clear from my consultations with these people that there are many issues facing those with disability in Australia. Amongst the biggest of these issues are housing and education," Commissioner McEwin said.
“I want to see people with disability have access to quality education on an equal basis with other people," he said.
Australians with disability have an unemployment rate of around 9.4%, almost double the rate of those without disability and disability discrimination accounts for the highest volume of complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
"In celebrating International Day of People with Disability and with the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act (1992) next March, it is a great opportunity to reflect on how far we have come," says Commissioner McEwin.
For over twenty years, UTS Shopfront has worked with community-based disability organisations; from one of our first projects in 1996 with Intellectual Disability Rights Service researching the incidence of physical violence against women with an intellectual disability, to our 2017 project for Accessible Arts with a business plan for a campaign to improve access in the City of Sydney.
The 'Access and Inclusion: Disability at UTS' exhibition runs until 27 February 2018, Monday to Friday from 7.30am-9.30pm at the UTS Tower Lobby (Level 4) 15 Broadway, Ultimo.