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Rosemary Kayess: The Fight for Disability Rights

Rosemary Kayess at the UNSW Gandhi Oration 2020

Despite taking steps towards becoming a more equal and inclusive society for all, Australia has a problem with human rights. Indigenous Australians are the most incarcerated in the world. More than one woman is killed every week by a partner or former partner. Over half of Australians living with a disability lack access to support services they need. The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill threatens to undermine inclusive workplaces for LGBTQI+ people.  

Fighting to address these issues are five fearless human rights champions. From the Australian voice to the United Nations for people living with a disability, to leading the #KidsOffNauru campaign which saw every child detained offshore brought to Australia, their resumes are enviable and inspiring portfolios of human rights advocacy.   

The annual Gandhi Lecture is hosted by UNSW Sydney close to India’s Martyrs’ Day, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination in 1948.  The event features people making significant contributions to the major human rights issues of our time. Speakers have included journalist Shoma Chaudhury, author Dr Hugh Mackay AO, journalist Peter Greste and Senator Pat Dodson.

No human has the complete repertoire of abilities. We are all relatively limited in some way at some time.

Rosemary Kayess

Rosemary Kayess

Rosemary Kayess has devoted her career to disability policy and reform, having advised on issues such as housing, education, guardianship and employment. She is a human rights lawyer, the Director of Engagement at the Disability Innovation Institute UNSW, and also teaches in the UNSW Faculty of Law. In 2019 she became the Vice Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 


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Photo credit: Prudence Upton

This talk is presented as part of the 2020 Gandhi Oration

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