Please Hold: Australia’s Communication Policy Response to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Thursday December 10, 3pm-4.30pm, Online via Zoom

This presentation evaluates current communication policies in Australia from a critical disability theory (CDT) framework and identifies the quality of those policies as they speak to people with disability. The research analyses three communications policy case studies to evaluate how Australia’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has improved disability access and inclusion. The case studies are: (1) access to the National Relay Service; (2) access to appropriate telecommunications equipment; and (3) access to online audio-visual media.

The study reveals that for many Australians with disability, there has been little in the way of increased access to digital communications since Australia’s 2008 adoption of the CRPD. The research finds that, despite an increasingly affirmative disability public discourse, along with a disability-inclusive political rhetoric, the adoption of the CRPD has done little to change the dominant ableism entrenched in Australia’s neoliberal communication policy framework.

Wayne Hawkins is Director of Inclusion with the Australian Communications Consumer Action network (ACCAN). Wayne has led ACCAN’s work on telecommunications access for consumers with disability, telecommunications affordability and emergency services. Prior to joining ACCAN Wayne was National Policy officer with Blind Citizens Australia. Wayne is a doctoral candidate at Sydney University researching Australian telecommunications and disability policies. Wayne has a Master of Public Policy from Sydney University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the City University of New York.