Community attitudes to people living with disability: review of literature and best practice

Disability discrimination People with disability Social inclusion Public opinion Australia

People with disability consistently identify community attitudes as a barrier to greater access and inclusion across the seven outcome areas of the Australian National Disability Strategy 2021, namely: 

1. Employment and Financial Security 

2. Inclusive Homes and Communities 

3. Safety, Rights, and Justice 

4. Personal and Community Support 

5. Health and Well-being 

6. Education and Learning 

7. Community Attitudes. 

The new National Disability Strategy seeks to promote and guide action and reform across all Australian governments, private enterprises and the broader community. Achieving attitudinal change requires a nuanced understanding of attitudes prevalent within each of the six outcome areas, the reasons why people without disability hold these attitudes and any structural factors that prevent (or constrain) positive change. 

This review of literature and best practice identifies commonly held attitudes within the general community, as well as more specific attitudes relating to employment, housing, health and community care and education (Section 1). The review then identifies types of strategies used to affect attitudinal change and the characteristics of successful strategies (Section 2). In Section 3, the focus turns to research gaps and current data collections before highlighting important themes which emerge from the experiences of people with disability when they engage with government and non-government services. The review concludes by identifying the sort of data that should inform the development of a periodic, large-scale, representative population survey instrument. 

This report is funded with assistance from a funding grant offered under the National Disability Research and Development Agenda, jointly implemented by disability representatives from Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.

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