On 28 June 2019, the Victorian Government hosted a national workshop on community attitudes towards people with disability in Australia, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and the Victorian Disability Advisory Council.
The purpose of the workshop was to share the methodology, findings and implications of a 2018 population-level survey of community attitudes towards people with disability and to workshop ideas and strategies to reduce and remove attitudinal barriers. Commonwealth, state and territory governments, higher education sector, Victorian local government, peak disability bodies, disability advocates and self-advocates attended the workshop.
The Opening address was delivered by Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner. His speech highlighted the importance of sustained personal, policy and structural level responses to improve community attitudes and behaviours.
Professor Anne Kavanagh from the University of Melbourne, who led the community attitudes research, delivered the key note presentation, which included a summary of the research report. Survey participants were generally aware of the harmful and stigmatising ways that society views people with disability. However, only a small minority of participants had particularly exclusionary attitudes. Nearly three-quarters of participants agreed that people without disability are unsure how to act toward people with disability.
Following Professor Kavanaugh’s presentation, a facilitated panel discussion considered how to design policy to encourage the community to adopt more inclusive attitudes. The panel included: Angel Dixon, CEO, The Attitude Foundation; Fiona Sharkie, CEO, AMAZE; Michael Daddo, Shannon Group, and; Associate Professor Liam Smith, Behaviour Works Australia.
The workshop concluded with table discussions to build a shared understanding of the issues and barriers to progress, and brainstorming possible solutions and future directions for improving community attitudes towards people with disability in Australia. A graphic recording captured the key themes stemming from the discussions.