Human Rights and Disabilities

Investigate how aspects of 'human rights' apply to the lives of people with a disability in Australia. Consider in detail how the question of access applies to this issue. Become more familiar with laws, community awareness and actions connected with disabled access. Look at the progress already made in respecting basic human rights for disabled citizens and contribute ideas for continuing this progress locally.


In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a set of human rights for all people. These included the right to protection from physical harm, the right to freedom of speech and access to a basic standard of living conditions. Countries everywhere were invited to agree to provide these rights for their citizens. Many countries, including Australia, have already made progress in human rights through laws and by providing public information.

In many countries, however, people with disabilities are sometimes excluded from the human rights that others take for granted. The disabilities can be physical, such as deafness, or psychological, such as depression. Those with a disability may not have the same access to being fully educated or to employment and participation in community activities. In 2006, the United Nations agreed on a set of rights specific to people with disabilities. In March 2007, all countries were invited to take these up.

In this investigation you will be asked to find out some basic facts about human rights. You will look up some of the laws (which many people still do not know about) on the access rights of disabled people in Australia. You will investigate the kinds of actions different groups are taking to make sure that disabled people can do the things they want to do with their lives. You will consider what actions you, or your community, could take to help with this process.

Overall aim

After working though this unit you will have learned about basic human rights. You will have made connections between human rights and the lives of disabled people. You will have discovered aspects of their lives that you may not have considered previously. You will have examined some of the laws and actions developed to assist disabled people and considered the effects of those laws.

In investigating this topic, you will also have developed your own understanding of some of the issues involved and become more aware of your own attitudes to people with disabilities. You will have had to take into account a variety of opinions, even if you do not entirely agree with them. You will apply these values, skills and perspectives to possible future action that could be taken by you, or in your community, to be more inclusive of its disabled members.

Focus questions

What does 'disabled' mean?

What is meant by basic human rights?

What are some of the laws that apply to people with a disability in Australia?

Which human rights are not always fully enjoyed by people with a disability?

What actions are being taken to include disabled people more fully in Australian communities?


In your investigation, you will collect information on human rights. You will consider how human rights impact on the lives of people with disabilities, and the laws relating to this issue. You will investigate the difficulties experienced by many such people in accessing activities and services in Australia. You will look at the progress that has been made in this area and be asked to think of possible ways that communities can continue this progress.