About disability

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Disability is part of being human.

Almost everyone will temporarily or permanently experience disability at some point in their life. Around 18% of Australia’s population – or one in every six Australians – currently experience disability, and this number is increasing due in part to population ageing and an increase in the prevalence of noncommunicable diseases. 

Here we unpack what disability means, the key legislation and policy frameworks which affect the rights, health and wellbeing of people with disability, and how organisations which represent people with disability work together to bring about change.  

Social model of disability

There are a range of ways to understand disability and how people experience disability. Here at PWDA we use the social model of disability to inform how we talk about disability and how we work to advance the rights, health and wellbeing of people with disability.

Find out more about the social model of disability.

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Disability and human rights

Disability rights are human rights. And the way we experience our human rights as people with disability should be based on how everyone should experience their human rights – with equity, justice, dignity and respect.

Find out more about disability and human rights.

Key disability legislation

There are several key pieces of legislation that impact on the lives of people with disability in Australia. Here we provide a brief summary of these laws, regulations and conventions. Please note these summaries are not intended to be a comprehensive guide, but to provide a brief introduction.

National Disability Strategy

Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031 is a national framework that all governments in Australia have signed up to. It sets out a plan for continuing to improve the lives of people with disability in Australia over the next ten years. The Strategy replaces and builds on the first National Disability Strategy 2010–2020.

Find out more about Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031.

National Disability Insurance Scheme

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is one of the most important social reforms in Australian history, delivering greater choice and control to people with disability in relation to how we receive the supports we need to participate equally in society.

Find out more about the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

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Disabled People’s Organisations

A Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) is an organisation that is made up of, controlled by and represents the interests of people with disability. PWDA is a DPO and works with other DPOs to ensure that our voices, experiences, needs and aspirations are represented with authenticity and self-determination.

Find out more about Disabled People’s Organisations.

History of Australia’s disability movement

This history of the disability rights movement in Australia is a fascinating story full of struggles and triumphs as well as camaraderie and community development. To understand how far we’ve come empowers us for even greater action in the future.

Find out more about the history or Australia’s disability movement.

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