‘Defiant Lives’ – and still it goes on!

  • 02/10/2017
Maree Ireland
Title image for 'Defiant Lives' a film by Sarah Barton

A few weeks ago, I saw the documentary ‘Defiant Lives’ produced by Sarah Barton. It was a very interesting overview of how people with disabilities have been ‘fighting’ (both strategically and physically) for equal rights and better services so we can live inclusive and productive lives.

The documentary showed how various groups of people with disabilities in countries such as Australia, Britain and United States took up causes around disability and fought for the improvements and equality they wanted.

Examples of some of their actions were negotiations with government bodies; people taking over government offices; people with disability marching and clashing with police; and chaining themselves to trains and trams in the fight for accessible transport much earlier than the proposed year 2025. It showed people with disabilities ‘fighting’ for better and equal employment opportunities and conditions.

The documentary depicted footage of the ‘institutions’ people with disabilities were made to ‘exist’ in – because it was definitely not living! The documentary makers interviewed several people, like Rosemary Crossley and others who had assisted individuals out of institutions. It also showed how much their lives had improved by living in the community.

The documentary also outlined how the disability sector came together as a united voice for the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

In watching this documentary, you do gain a sense of pride and achievement around where we have come from.

The following day I attended the DARU Forum on ‘Getting ready for the NDIS’. As the day progressed with different speakers, I got the feeling that even though the NDIS is the biggest social reform since Medicare, the ‘fight’ for individuals with disability has only just begun to get the funding for the disability supports they really need to live independent lives.

So I suppose we have to keep on having ‘defiant lives’.

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