Australia’s First Peoples with disability are some of the most marginalised citizens in Australian society. Statistics suggest that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience disability at a rate approximately twice that of other Australians (Productivity Commission, 2014). Despite the high prevalence of disability among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, there is currently an inadequate understanding of their rights to inclusion in policy and practice.
Intersectionality is an emerging field of human rights research. It acknowledges the multiple dimensions of a person’s identity as a frame for understanding the layers in which social inequity can accumulate. The rights for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person with disability has at least two dimensions; one pertaining to Indigenous status and another pertaining to disability. Addressing one aspect of a person’s rights in isolation can leave them excluded from another aspect of society important to their sense of identity. Addressing neither can leave a person entirely marginalised and voiceless in a complex social support system.
The First Peoples Disability Network (Australia)–a national non-government organisation entirely constituted by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability–is leading a community driven research program that captures narratives of lived experience of disability from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This presentation will outline an innovative approach to community driven disability research and knowledge translation in collaboration with disability policymakers. Preliminary findings from the research will be shared to highlight how community directed research can provide new perspectives on access and inclusion in the development of disability policies for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.