23 Jul
Issue Paper summary: Rights and attitudes pt 1

Issue Paper summary: Rights and attitudes pt 1

This issue paper looks at the rights and attitudes of people of disability and how they are understood and recognised by the general community.  

To start, we break some of these terms. See more on our definitions list. 


These are rules that make sure everyone is treated equally.  

Australia currently follows the rules stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. They say that people with disability have a right to: 

  • Respect and privacy 
  • Make their own choices 
  • Take part in the community 
  • Not be discriminated against 
  • Equal rights for men and women 
  • Equal opportunity and accessibility 

The Government also has laws to protect your right to: 

  • Be safe and protected from those who threaten or hurt you 
  • Have control over your money and belongings 
  • Decide if someone can touch you or be in a relationship with you 


When you act or speak up to defend someone’s rights, that is called advocacy. Disability advocacy can be done by: 

  • Yourself: a person or group speaks for themselves 
  • An advocate: someone speaks up on your behalf 
  • A legal individual: a lawyer gives you legal advice and support in the justice system 
  • A systematic approach: through changing laws and practices  

Attitudes and awareness 

Attitudes are what we think, feel, and believe. These are formed over time  and affect the way we live our lives.  

A stigma is a negative attitude held by people, organisations, or government about a group of people. It is based on their age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, culture, or health. This often happens in two ways: 

  • Ableism: an idea that people without disability are better than those with disability 
  • Paternalism: when you believe someone needs to be protected or can’t take care of themselves 

For people with disability, these attitudes can lead to being excluded or treated unfairly. 

When you are aware, it means that you know about and understand a topic. Research has shown that a lack of awareness about people with disability leads to a negative attitude towards them.  

Download the English and Easy Read versions here.  

You can make a submission to this issue paper by the 31st July to be included in the final report. However you can still share your experience after this date. To make a submission or find out more about the Commission, head to our page. 

In part two we look at what the Royal Commission will focus on and some questions to help you share your experience.  

To speak to someone about the Royal Commission, you can email them here or call 1800 517 199