Big Society, Disability and Civil Society Research

Website for ESRC research project 'Big Society? Disabled People with Learning Disabilities and Civil Society'

3rd August 2015: Understanding and contesting institutional disablism; a one day symposium, The University of Sydney, New South Wales

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3rd August 2015: Understanding and contesting institutional disablism; a one day symposium, The University of Sydney, New South Wales

Today, Dan and Katherine joined were joined by their Big Society team member, Toby Brandon, from the University of Northumbria and colleagues at the University of Sydney’s Centre for Disability Studies to spend the day understanding and contesting institutional disablism.

Over one hundred attendees packed into the seminar room to hear Professor Patricia O’Brien, Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Sydney, open the event with her presentation Disablism and the Shout Out Report in Australia. Patricia’s presentation outlined the findings of the Shout Out report and described the lack of services and support as well as work force issues, housing, poverty and the cost of living as well as current disability reforms, including the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Next up, Dan Goodley, The University of Sheffield, UK, and Katherine Runswick-Cole, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, gave a paper entitled: The Violence of Disablism in the UK. Their presentation described the multi-faceted nature of the violence in the lives of disabled people in the UK. Their analysis resists attempts to put the problems of violence back onto disabled people or on a ‘few mindless individuals’ and to focus on the real, psycho-emotional and systemic aspects of the violence of disablism.

Dan and Katherine’s presentation was followed by Dr Gabrielle Drake, Director of Academic Programs, Social Work and Community Welfare, University of New South Wales. Her talk, Disablism and homelessness in Australia, described the persistence of homelessness in the lives of disabled people in Australia.

Next members of the Inclusive Research Group at the Centre for Disability Studies presented Dealing with the health system from the perspectives of people with intellectual disability. The presentation reported on findings from a study that focused on the way that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities is being enacted.

After lunch, Kathy Boxall, Professor of Social Work and Disability Studies, Edith Cowan Univeristy, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, delivered her presentation Researching disability & disablism. Kathy offered a historical perspective on disability research and institutionlised disablism.

Kathy was followed by Toby Brandon, Reader in Mental Health and Disability Studies, a member of the Big Society research team from the University of Northumbria. Toby’s presentation, Disablist hate crime and civil society, described research focusing on disablist hate crime that was co-produced by members of Lawnmowers theatre company.

Finally, Paul Ramcharan, Associate Professor at the Centre for Applied Social Work, RMIT University presented Views of people disability and family carers to restrictive practices.

This was followed by a knowledge café facilitated by Patricia O’Brien.



Author: Katherine RC

Katherine is Research Fellow in Disability Studies and Psychology at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University

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