Can policy to address some rights address breaches of other disability rights?

Document Type


MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)

Conference papers

Publication details

Robinson, S & Fisher, K 2010, 'Can policy to address some rights address breaches of other disability rights?', paper presented to 45th ASSID Australasian Conference. Brisbane, Qld., 29 September - 1 October.


Governments must implement the UN CRPD. In practice, government prioritises policies relating to some rights more highly than others. This unequal implementation relates in part to constraints on government, including competing interests, multiple participants and incremental policy change. In the context of these constraints, can differential policy priorities address breaches of other disability rights? This paper tests this question in relation to support for people living in boarding houses in Queensland, focusing particularly on residents with intellectual disability. Among the core disability rights are the rights to housing and housing support (Article 19). For some people living in boarding houses, this setting is inappropriate to their housing needs and amounts to a breach of their rights. Part of the government response has been to fund or provide support for people with disability living in boarding houses, with the rationale that providing support will alleviate residential needs. We conducted three research projects in this environment. Data shows that while support services can contribute to improved quality of life for some people, their more fundamental housing needs are not addressed. For some, support needs are too complex for this type of housing. In these cases, the setting both increases their support needs and also prevents access to appropriate support. The research concludes that policies to fulfil one set of rights are unlikely to be successful if the breach of a right such as housing remains unaddressed. It raises questions for rights theory and policy practice about whether rights are hierarchical in significance.