The dynamics of disability social policy, political participation and communication rights are complex.
An epochal social policy reform in Australia is the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Much is to unfold concerning the realities of what the NDIS will offer Australians with disabilities, and society at large, and to what extent the NDIS will deliver on its promise of being a transformational change. This paper engages with the complex dynamics of disability social policy, with a focus on political participation and its close relationship to communication rights. The right to political and public participation is a key article in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (article 29). Crucially, it interacts with article 21, which deals with freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information. From this vantage point, what does the unfolding case of the NDIS tell us about communication, social policy and political participation? How did—and does—communication evolve concerning NDIS? What kinds of voice and what types of listening does the NDIS afford for people with disabilities, in relation to the transformation of disability in Australia? How do new digital technologies and media cultures offer new relationships between communication and political participation? What are the implications of the NDIS for political participation for people with disabilities?
Gerard Goggin and Dinesh Wadiwel’s paper was presented at the Reform and Rhetoric in Australian Social Policy Symposium which brought together researchers at The University of Sydney on 19 September 2014 to discuss how contemporary social policy is being talked about, designed and debated, and is published in the Australian Review of Public Affairs (192).