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Abstract from

Human Rights and People with Disabilities in Closed Environments

Patsie Frawley is a Research Fellow with the Living with Disabilities Research Group at La Trobe University.

Bronwyn Naylor is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at Monash University.

Despite the ascendancy of rights-based disability legislation over the past three decades and the subsequent deinstitutionalisation movement, people with disabilities are still housed in congregate residential institutions in Australia. Most people living in these facilities are people with intellectual disabilities who have been placed there by administrative decisions, although some have been placed under a formal order on the basis of risk. These environments are closed off from the community geographically and offer a very different model of service than the individualised model that has grown from rightsbased legislation and policy. This article draws on international and domestic legislation and on an empirical research study with staff and clients of three residential institutions in Australia to examine the capacity of such facilities to recognise and protect the human rights of residents. It highlights in particular the challenge to the existence of closed residential facilities posed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular art 19, which articulates the right to choose where to live, and to live in the community.

(2014) Vol 31 Law in Context p48

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