Disability and support relationships: What role does policy play?

Karen R. Fisher, Sandra Gendera, Anne Graham, Sally Robinson, Kelley Johnson, Kate Neale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Very little is known about how relationships between people with disabilities and their paid support workers are positioned in policy. With the policy shift toward choice of provider, individualised approaches, person centredness and self-directed funding, the nature of their relationship assumes a more prominent role in the quality of support practice. The policy analysis in this article explores the extent to which current disability policy acknowledges, promotes, or diminishes the relationships between people with disabilities and workers, in their organisational context. It uses Honneth's conditions for recognition—love (cared for), rights (respected) and solidarity or social esteem (valued)—to understand how policy positions mutuality in the relationship. The policy review applied a three-stage process: categorisation of policies, textual analysis and content analysis to policy documents at four levels—international, Australian federal, state and organisational in two case studies. The analysis revealed that while a rights framework is explicit in most policies, the emphases on the conditions for recognition within a relationship between people with disabilities and workers are compromised in instructional policies that attempt to manage the tension between choice and risk, particularly at the organisational level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-55
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Public Administration
Issue number1
Early online date14 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • identity
  • mutuality
  • NDIS
  • paid support workers
  • people with disability
  • recognition theory


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