Disability policy in Australia: a triumph of the scriptio inferior on impotence and neediness

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    From the time that development of a National Disability Insurance Scheme arrived on the agenda of the Australian Labor Government's 2008 Ideas Summit, the lives of disabled Australian citizens have been widely discussed, consulted on, planned for and acted on. This discourse analysis (Fairclough 2003; 2010) critiques the ways in which disabled lives have been framed in these high profile policy debates, with detailed focus on two key policy documents. The Shut Out Report: the Experiences of People with Disabilities in Australia (2009) (2009) and Disability Care and Support (Productivity Commission 2011) are both grounded in extensive national consultations and provide significant evidence about the ways that disabled Australians talk about the problems they face and the solutions they advocate. The paper employs the well-known recognition-redistribution debate of Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth (2003) to interpret the findings that narratives of suffering, burden and marginalisation predominate in current policy conversations. This tends to push out discussions concerning the non-redistributive aspects of disability reform, potentially contributing to non-integrationist discourse entrenched over 150 years of policies of segregation. Minority voices advocating social integration are present but muted. At this stage, their influence is undetermined.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)191-208
    Number of pages18
    JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
    Issue number2
    Early online date2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


    • disability
    • discourse
    • NDIS
    • NDS
    • neediness


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