Eden Parris Advocacy CoordinatorCommunication Rights Australia
Communication RightsAustralia Formerly CAUS Advocacy and information for people with little or no speech Statistics: 730,000 Victorians who have a communication disability Communication Disability often listed secondary
Purpose of Session There has been much discussion in recent years about a human rights-based approach to advocacy. What are some practical ways we can incorporate human rights legislation into our advocacy, so that people with disabilities can experience greater justice in their lives?
WHY use human rights legislation? . To achieve a just OUTCOME Advocacy often operates in thegrey area between persuasionand compulsion. Advocacy often follows a series of ‘escalating’ steps: hone calls/emails etters eetings omplaint
Using human rights: Builds in the compulsion at the early stages of advocacy (emails, calls, letters, meetings). It increases your leverage early on. It is all about getting the result and using a method that does not rely on emotion or criticism but which builds respect dignity into the process
WHY use human rights legislation?2. To Educate and Achieve Systemic Change as we go The Historical Shift described by the UN: The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. It takes to a new height the movement from viewing persons with disabilities as "objects" of charity, medical treatment and social protection towards viewing persons with disabilities as "subjects" with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions for their lives based on their free and informed consent as well as being active members of society (UN ENABLE) If we want our work as advocates to have a social development dimension then we should embed human rights into our advocacy practice so that we can be part of this historical movement.
HOW? – the ‘nuts and bolts’1. FRAME YOUR ADVOCACY CASE IN TERMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS What human rights? Not enough to say “human rights.” Not enough to say just ‘Freedom Respect Equality Dignity’. Risks of oversimplification. CRA developed a database that enables us to frame advocacy cases in terms of particular human rights Note: If you can’t frame your case in terms of an infringement of human rights or policy it may not be an advocacy request (vs case management)
Actual documents United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Universal Declaration of Human Rights Disability Act State Disability Plan Disability Standards (DHS) Disability Discrimination Act Disability Standards for Education
Examples of Rights include: Freedom of expression Freedom of movement Access to Justice Right to be free from exploitation or abuse Right to family Right to adequate standard of living Right to Education Right to Privacy Right to be included in the community Right to Health
1. Framing your caseExample Greg Jones is aged 62, in nursing home, muscular dystrophy, barely getting outside. Wants to get a motor scooter to visit shops and river Opposition from family, nursing home, no case manager Concerns about finances and safety ‘we know what’s best for him’
STEP 1: FRAME YOUR ADVOCACY GOAL AS AN ACHIEVABLE SENTENCE WITH A DATE “FOR GREG JONES TO BE ACCESSING HIS LOCAL COMMUNITY AT LEAST TWICE WEEKLY ON A MOTOR SCOOTER WITH APPROPRIATE SUPPORT BY JULY 1 2012”STEP 2. NOMINATE THE HUMAN RIGHTS THAT MAY BE BEING BREACHED:• Freedom of Movement• Right to Mobility• Right to access community
STEP 3: NOMINATE THE ACTUAL SECTIONS THATRELATE TO THESE RIGHTS So it is not just - Freedom of Movement But Freedom of Movement – s12 Vic Charter, Art. 18UNCRPDHave a ready means of accessing the UNCRPD and theVic CharterAt Communication Rights Australia we have brokenthem down into Word Documents for Easy Access onour system
Example 2 Christine James is in Year 7 at a mainstream high school. She has autism and very little speech. She communicates using an AAC device which she uses independently after it is set up and she is encouraged to use it. Independent testing has confirmed her to be mid to high range IQ. Christine’s parents have discovered that her device is not being taken out of her school bag by her teacher’s aide, and that Christine is being given colouring in during Maths and Science. Recently the vice principal has suggested to Mrs James that Christine would be better suited to a special school. They approach your organisation for advocacy.
1. Frame Advocacy Goal“For Christine James to remain at mainstream high school and to be using her communication device in all classes with the support of appropriately trained aides by 1 June 2012”2. Nominate Human Rights and relevant SectionsRight to Communicate – Vic Charter s15(2), UNCRPD Art 21Right to Education – UNCRPD Art 24
Commence your advocacy1. Emails and Phone calls“Dear [Integration Coordinator]Communication Rights Australia is a government funded advocacy service for people with little or no speech.We have been invited by the parents of Christine James (Year 7) to attend the upcoming Student Support Group Meeting on 3 April 2012.This is to confirm our attendance at the meeting. It is our hope that issues to do with Christine’s right to inclusive education and her right to communicate in the classroom will be able to be resolved and the training of teacher’s aides in using her device will commence.”
Emails and phonecalls (cont.) Polite but firm Mentioning the specific rights i.e. “right to communicate” Not mentioning the sections or legislation (don’t go overboard at this stage) Note: strategy would be to get the parents to request this as an agenda item which you speak to
Attending meetings Have relevant human rights legislation and sections printed out and highlighted for your reference Introduce the topic – people may not be aware Read the section out REFRAME conversation from ‘problem’ to ‘rights’ Have a couple of excerpts ready to hand out (see next slide for example)Don’t forget to lead into your concrete requesti.e. a) For a communications book to be completed every class, recording how the Christine’s communications device was used b) For an agreement that Christine’s two teacher’s aides will receive fortnightly training sessions for 3 months in using her communications device
Writing Letters Key area to incorporate human rights Once again – moral force, power of trump card Trumps what? Resources argument (give eg), outdated practices Remember: Human Rights are inherent to each individual Human Rights are individual Human Rights are indisputable Human Rights are inseparable Should be straightforward if you have already framed your case in terms of human rights sections. You’ve already done your research.
COMPONENTS OF LETTER1. To Whom2. Importance of Title – reference specific rights (tocommunicate you are serious and to generate concernand urgency)3. Introduction to your concerns and reference rights4. Summary of facts5. Excerpts from Human Rights legislation6. Finish by stating what you want done7. Request a response within X daysNote on length: Use appendices if necessary
Complaints Mechanisms Disability Services Commissioner Tribunals (AHRC, VEOHRC, Health Services Commissioner, VCAT) Ombudsman Court Continue to use specific human rights sections. Will get varying levels of interest depending on forum Using specific human rights strengthen your
Minister, MediaContinue to use specific human rights sections.Will strengthen your argument
LinksUNCRPD http://www.un.org/disabilities/index.aspVictorian Charter ACT: www.opi.vic.gov.au/file.php?251 Summary with sections http://www.humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au and click ‘Charter Rights’Communication Rights Australia email: email@example.com