Civic Participation is a Human Right
Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) states that “every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity… to take part in the conduct of public affairs…. vote and to be elected… and to have access, on general terms of equality, to public service”.
Article 29 of The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2008) requires Governments to “ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others”.
Article 9 requires Governments to “take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, … and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public”. It states that they must identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers to accessibility.
Article 21 demands that we “take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, … on an equal basis with others”.
Civic Participation is Government Policy
“People with disability have lived experience of disability and must play a central role in shaping and implementing policies, programs and services that affect them”
National Disability Strategy 2010-2020
“Involvement of people with disability—the views of people with disability are central to the design, funding, delivery and evaluation of policies, programs and services which impact on them, with appropriate support and adjustment for participation.”
National Disability Strategy 2010-2020
“Voting, running as a candidate in an election, and participating in political parties, interests groups and activist movements are examples of civic participation. Input into decisions and policy making by government at all levels is another key civic process. People with a disability, particularly people with an intellectual disability, are under-represented in these civic activities.”
Absolutely Everyone, Victorian State disability plan 2017–2020
“People with a disability have much to contribute to civic life, yet they are excluded from decisions that affect them and the broader community. We are committed to providing opportunities for people with a disability to lead and contribute to public debate and influence change within government and communities.”
Action 24 of Absolutely Everyone, Victorian State disability plan 2017–2020
By increasing the number of people with cognitive disability making meaningful contributions on boards, committees and advisory groups within government, service providers, community and mainstream organisations, Voice at the Table supports each of the six priority areas outlined in the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020:
- Inclusive and accessible communities—the physical environment including public transport; parks, buildings and housing; digital information and communications technologies; civic life including social, sporting, recreational and cultural life.
- Rights protection, justice and legislation—statutory protections such as anti-discrimination measures, complaints mechanisms, advocacy, the electoral and justice systems.
- Economic security—jobs, business opportunities, financial independence, adequate income support for those not able to work, and housing.
- Personal and community support—inclusion and participation in the community, person-centred care and support provided by specialist disability services and mainstream services; informal care and support.
- Learning and skills—early childhood education and care, schools, further education, vocational education; transitions from education to employment; life-long learning.
- Health and wellbeing—health services, health promotion and the interaction between health and disability systems; wellbeing and enjoyment of life.