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Dignity of Risk should be a disability right

By Peter Gibilisco - posted Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What is "Dignity of Risk"? Look at what the web site"Furthering Inclusive Learning and Development" says:

Dignity of Risk refers to the right of all people to undertake some tasks that have a level of risk. It can be risky to go surfing as accidents can occur, but if you are a good swimmer, surf with a friend and check surfing conditions, it is a reasonable risk to take.

Is this also saying that the service providers and carers of people with disabilities have to balance the risk to the disabled person and the right of that person to pursue happiness?


People with disabilities are mainly in the best position to instruct their own support services. Dignity of Risk should mean that support services encourage the disabled to make their own informed choices.

Stereotyping and discriminatory attitudes can make it even more difficult for a person with disabilities to be a "normal person". It follows that the disabled person should decide for him or herself what their own Dignity of Risk level is

Recognition of this need will enable a better relationship between the support workers and the disabled and a consequent development of both consumer and provider.

The danger is that the principle Dignity of Risk is something that can be over-ridden - and support turned into a legalistic tug of war. Quoting The State Disability Plan:

The Principle of Dignity and Self-Determination (Choice) is about respecting and valuing the knowledge, abilities and experiences that people with a disability possess, supporting them to make choices about their lives, and enabling each person to live the life they want to live (Guiding principles).



The Victorian Government wants disability supports to focus on supporting people with a disability in flexible ways, based on their individual needs, so that each person can live the lifestyle that they want to lead (The New Approach).

Section 69 of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act (1995)

But, is the above as stipulated by the state disability planto be legally enforced so as to ensure the upholding of disability rights? Consider Section 69 of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act:

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Thanks to Bruce Wearne for his assistance

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About the Author

Peter Gibilisco was diagnosed with the progressive neurological condition called Friedreich's Ataxia, at age 14. The disability has made his life painful and challenging. He rocks the boat substantially in the formation of needed attributes to succeed in life. For example, he successfully completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne, this was achieved late into the disability's progression. However, he still performs research with the university, as an honorary fellow. Please read about his new book The Politics of Disability.

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