Participation in the Community is a Right not a Luxury

Samaritans CEO

A core value at Samaritans is the belief that all people should have an equal opportunity to contribute to their communities and benefit socially and emotionally from that engagement.

Yet a recent government study has shown that over one third of people living with disability do not have the opportunity to leave home as often as they would like with the majority identifying their disability or condition as the primary reason why.

This is not merely a recent issue but one the report shows to have been prevalent in our communities since 2003. Moreover, it was one of the key findings of the 2009 Shut Out report which identified inaccessible built environments as a significant barrier facing people with disability within their communities.

As an organisation which believes in equality, Samaritans works with and for people with a disability, providing services to ensure not only access to the community but the opportunities to flourish within it.

To see that this level of autonomy is still under threat is unacceptable.

Inclusion and participation in one’s community shouldn’t be seen as a luxury for people with disabilities when it is otherwise considered a fundamental part of life for others.

Accessibility isn’t merely a matter of ramps or lifts; it is of attitudes and acceptance. Fear and anxiety was identified as a factor in why some people with disability did not leave home. No one should have to endure a situation which fosters fear and anxiety yet people with disability do face casual discrimination.

To fight discrimination and enable equal access, inclusion and participation in the community for people with disability, we have to combat the negative attitudes that still persist in Australian society.

Together we must fight against inaccessibility in communities; both physical and psychological barriers.