30 October 2023

Support to change laws in Victoria preventing people with disability under Guardianship from speaking to the media

Life Without Barriers supports the Office of the Public Advocate, the many individual advocates and disability representative organisations who are lobbying for the right of people with disability to share their experiences about Guardianship or Administration with the media if they choose.

First and foremost, we believe Guardianship and Administration should be an absolute last resort for a person with disability. As a society, we need to embrace an understanding that all people should be considered as being able to make decisions about their lives. In some circumstances where a person needs assistance, then supported decision-making is an important way for a person’s independence and rights to be upheld.

In the circumstance where a person’s legal authority has been appointed to a Guardian or Administrator, we have an obligation to uphold the inherent rights a person has under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Currently in Victoria, there is legislation which prevents people with disability under guardianship or administration orders from being able to openly share their experiences and stories with media outlets if they choose. If all people with disability are to experience their right to freedom of expression, this law needs to be changed.

Freedom for people with disability to speak with the media and share their experiences under Guardianship is an important step in transparency and accountability and can contribute to safeguarding by individuals and organisations responsible for providing safe and quality support.

The responsibility of media

We also believe in the responsibility of media to ensure people with disability and their stories and experiences are not exploited or misrepresented. Informed consent and the presumption of a person’s right to choice is a crucial practice that should be adhered to in all engagement by media when working with people with disability. We believe all media must actively engage in ethical reporting on issues relating to disability and prioritise the dignity and safety of people with disability. The rights, choices and preferences of the person the story belongs to should always remain central to any reporting.

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