International Day of People with Disabilities – Implications of the 1 in 4 Inclusion Poll

Dr Nick Hagiliassis is the Clinical and Research Lead with Scope’s Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) service and a consultant psychologist with over twenty years’ work in the area of disability. He was the Research Lead on 1 in 4 Inclusion Poll. Here he speaks to us about the importance of making people with disability feel included in society as empowered citizens.

Why was the 1 in 4 Poll created?  

The 1 in 4 Poll was a national survey on issues important to people with a disability and their families. The research was undertaken by Scope in partnership with Deakin University. We wanted to capture the voice of Australians with a disability, as well as their families and carers. It was a way to increase the power of people with disability and carers to influence social and political processes.

Can you please tell us more about the Poll and why it’s important?  

People with disability represent a significant portion of the Australian population. Approximately one in five Australians have a disability and there are more than two and a half million Australians who are carers of people with disability. So together, one out of every four Australians has a disability or is caring for someone with a disability.

Research and the conversations we are having with people with disability says that the exclusion of people is one of the biggest barriers to leading a fulfilling life. People with disability represent one of the most marginalised groups within our population.

The 1 in 4 poll surveyed people whose voices were not being heard, using what we call an accessible survey design. This meant we designed the surveys to be inclusive of people with a range of abilities, including people with communication disabilities. It meant that for the first time, more people could provide their own views directly. This helped us capture the lived experience of more people, more than what otherwise would have been the case.

Why is inclusion important for people with disability/communication disability?  

People with communication disability are particularly disadvantaged with respect to their inclusion in society. When we surveyed people, their biggest barriers to social inclusion were the attitudes of others. Many people reported that others lacked knowledge and understanding about their disability. People reported that they weren’t shown respect, such as when others did not listen to them or ignored them. For example, people reported that others would ask questions of carers rather asking the person directly. Sometimes people were treated as less intelligent than those without disability. People reported experiences across whole of community, but especially when using shops, pubs or restaurants, when using public transport and when receiving health services.

Can you share some data highlights from the Poll surrounding people with disability in the community?

Approximately one in five Australians has a reported disability and the prevalence of disability is increasing. For more information click here.  

Why is it so important that people with disability feel included in society – integral to them feeling like equal and empowered citizens 

Inclusion of people with disability is ultimately a human rights requirement – we have come to see the need to be socially included from a human rights lens. People with disability have a right to social participation (such as arts, sport and recreational activities), social relationships (such as being treated with respect by others), services access (like accessing disability support services, and mainstream health services), and economic access (such as having enough money to get by on). Social exclusion results from many things, amongst them entrenched negative attitudes and systemic barriers. To address these, we need to continue to strive for enabling community attitudes, and invest in direct action at a community and systems level.

Has there been any change since the I in 4 Poll was conducted? Are you satisfied with the progress?

Since the 1 in 4 poll was undertaken (around 2011, so nearly 10 years ago), there has been significant change in our approach to the inclusion of people with disability. The most major reform has been the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This human rights context draws attention to the need for people to be able to participate fully and effectively and be included in society. We are moving in the right direction – and in other areas such as people having choice and control about the things in life that are important to them. However, we need to strengthen our efforts on ways that enhance community participation amongst NDIS participants, families, and carers – especially in areas that people with disability identify as important to them, based on their own lived experience.