Blog posts by Maree Ireland

Human rights as a framework

Aug 11, 2016

A few weeks ago I attended a consultation by SCOPE Victoria around developing a Human Rights Framework for the delivery of their services. There was discussion regarding the various pieces of legislation, conventions and enquiries that are being undertaken to enable the lives of people with disabilities to be better? Improved?

As I was listening to the discussion I started to wonder if all the above frameworks really link in to the everyday lives of people with disabilities. I suppose all the above are meant to influence the way members of the community think about and treat people with disabilities. 

But how can we have better lives when we are still being portrayed so poorly in the media, as was the case in the Age Weekender (6/08/16) -“Burden of Care” by Fiona Harari

No doubt the purpose of the article was to point out the difficulties faced by both Alex and Vanesa, his mother. However, I completely fail to see the need for the journalist to portray Alex with such insulting and degrading words – words I will not repeat. Why do journalists think they can write about innocent, fellow human beings in such a deplorable way?

We have gone through a period where the effects of the ‘portrayal of women’ in the media has been examined and debated as harmful to women and their self-image. Consequently there has been a move, to some extent, to portray women in a more realistic and less offensive manner. 

As the journalist reporting Alex’s story was female, I would have thought she would be more aware and mindful of the words she chose to describe Alex; and the effects they would have on Alex, his family and fellow people with disability. 

I am a woman, and I am a woman with a disability so I am fully aware of the effects of how the media portrays us.

I started this piece about the purpose of having human rights as a framework for how the community treats everyone, including people with disabilities. Perhaps journalists should start having a Human Rights Framework for the way they write their stories.