UNSW Social Policy Debate: Disability & Creativity

When:22 Feb 2017, 4:30pm - 7pm
Venue:SMC Conference & Function Centre: 66 Goulburn Street Sydney
Who:UNSW Social Policy Research Centre
SPRC Feb Event 2017

This house believes that when we focus on disability as difference rather than commonality it can be creative

Alastair McEwin

Susan Dodds & Jax Jacki Brown

Rosemary Kayess & Dinesh Wadiwel

Disability affects almost everyone at some stage and in some way, through either direct experience or family and friends. Like the politics of any rights, identity and diversity, experiences of disability raise questions about how we live out the tension between claiming our commonality and shared citizenship, with the opportunity for recognising and celebrating difference. Creativity and innovation are stimulated by necessity and by unexpected connections between people with different experiences – disability is one area where this happens. When we encompass differing embodiments, ways of inter-connected living in families and communities, and technologies responding to disability needs, there is potential for changing the ways we all live. The debate topic questions how we harness the creativity and innovation disability offers to recognise commonality, rights, diversity and the meaning of inclusive living.


  • Alastair McEwin is Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner. He commenced in this role in August 2016. Alastair’s educational background is in arts, law and business administration. Following his undergraduate studies in Adelaide, he spent time in Vancouver, Canada, pursuing postgraduate studies. Prior to moving to Sydney to commence as a consultant with Accenture, a global management and IT consulting company, he worked as Associate to the Hon. Justice John von Doussa at the Federal Court. Alastair has a strong background in working with non-profit organisations. He was the Executive Director of Community Legal Centres NSW, the peak body for Community Legal Centres in NSW. Other roles include CEO of People with Disability Australia and Manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law.

    Prior to commencing in his current role, he was the Chairperson of the NSW Disability Council, the official advisory board to the NSW Government on disability issues. He was also the President of the Deaf Society of NSW and Chairperson of the Australian Theatre of the Deaf. He has also been the coordinator of the World Federation of the Deaf Expert Group on Human Rights and an adjunct lecturer for the Masters of Community Management degree at the University of Technology Sydney.

  • Professor Susan Dodds is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW. Her research expertise is in feminist bioethics, moral psychology and political philosophy. She is co-editor of Big Picture Bioethics: Developing Democratic Policy in Contested Domains (2016) and Vulnerability: New Essays in Ethics and Feminist Philosophy (2014). 

  • Jax Jacki Brown is a disability and LGBTI rights activist, writer and disability sexuality educator. She holds a BA in Cultural Studies and Communication focused on the intersection of queer and disability studies. Jax recently made number 19 on the coveted lesbian power list, the same list as Penny Wong! 

  • Rosemary Kayess co-directs the disability and human rights project at the Australian Human Rights Centre, Faculty of Law and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre UNSW. She was the external expert on the Australian Government delegation to the United Nations negotiations for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Dr Dinesh Wadiwel is Senior Lecturer in Socio-Legal Studies and Human Rights at the University of Sydney. His research interests include race, disability and critical animal studies. Dinesh has a longstanding involvement with disability rights movements in Australia, and was a previous Executive Officer of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA).