Persons with disabilities: cure or accommodate?

State Library of Victoria
Cnr Swanston and La Trobe St.
Melbourne, 3000

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Amy Bugeja

T: +61 3 8344 1819

From a medical perspective, disability may be viewed as the result of a physical condition intrinsic to the individual which may reduce that person's quality of life and cause disadvantages. A major purpose of medical research can thus be viewed as aiming to discover ways of limiting and, if possible, 'curing' disabilities to alleviate disadvantage.

On the other hand, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities includes within its definition of persons with disabilities those with impairments 'which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others'.

The Convention requires governments to make 'reasonable accommodation' for persons with disabilities. This means making 'necessary and appropriate modification and adjustments' to ensure those with disabilities can enjoy their rights on an equal basis with others.

Where should scarce governmental resources be channelled: to improving function and finding cures or making reasonable accommodations to ensure persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in society?

It is the voices of people with disabilities themselves that must guide this debate. This event will include diverse voices of people with disabilities with varying perspectives on the topic and will aims to highlight the 'social' and 'medical' models of disability and stimulate discussion about rights and research.


  • Dr Dianne Ashworth
    First recipient of bionic eye transplant and Lecturer In Social Work, Deakin University
  • Professor Richard Dowell
    Graeme Clark Chair in Audiology and Speech Science at The University of Melbourne
  • Professor Helen Herrman
    Director at Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health
  • Mr Graeme Innes AM
    Previous Disability Discrimination Commissioner
  • Ms Rosemary Kayess
    Human Rights Lawyer and Director, Human Rights and Disability Project, of the Australian Human Rights Centre at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales
  • Ms Jody Barney
    Deaf Indigenous Community Consultant and Advocate

Hosted and moderated by Jon Faine. Join the conversation on Twitter using #disabilitytalks.

Banner image titled 'Not titled' by artist, George Aristovoulou 2015. With thanks to Arts Project Australia.