Fighting for equal rights

4 December 2019

Every day, billions of people around the world head off to jobs to earn a living, support their families, and achieve a sense of accomplishment and pride.

This ability to be gainfully employed is a basic human right. That’s why it’s alarming that many people with disabilities continue to be excluded from the labour market.

According to the Australian Network on Disability, more than 10 per cent of Australians with a disability are unemployed. But the unemployment figure is significantly higher for people with certain disabilities, such as vision impairments.

Pictured: Associate Professor Paul Harpur.

Associate Professor Paul Harpur, a AIBE research fellow and senior lecturer at UQ’s Law School who is also legally blind, says the discrimination against people with physical and mental disabilities is a national crisis, and the way society regulates disability is both inefficient and denying people their human rights.

“From the outside, it would seem that recent policy changes around discrimination in the workplace have benefited people with disabilities,” Associate Professor Harpur says.

“There are more opportunities for those already in the workplace to progress in their careers but, in the 25 years or more since the establishment of the Disability Discrimination Act, the number of people with disabilities who are employed hasn’t actually increased.

“It’s a policy puzzle.”