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Making the Journey: arts and disability in Australia publication

Author: Mary Hutchison
Australia Council and Arts Access Australia

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Back to Back Theatre - The ensemble of Mental: Rita Halabarec, Rabbit, Mark Deans, Darren Riches, Sonia Teuben and Nicki Holland. As featured on the cover of Making The Journey.

On 1 December at Parliament House Senator The Hon Kay Patterson and Senator The Hon Rod Kemp launched a significant new publication called Making the Journey: arts and disability in Australia. The 96 page full colour book is free and available in hardcopy or online from the Australia Council and Arts Access Australia.

As the name suggests Making the Journey is about arts activities and people with disabilities. It offers 12 case studies as examples of approaches, issues and achievements in the Australian field of art and disability in recent years. The book has been made possible by the generous support of the Australia Council and Family and Community Services.

The case studies in this book show initiatives from the arts, health, education and training sectors and responses by cultural organisations that remove barriers to participation. A theme across all of the examples is the leadership of artists, audience members and advocates with a disability.

These examples were chosen to stimulate discussion amongst a general readership as well as practitioners. It is hoped that they will provide inspiration for change as well as practical suggestions for it.

Arts Access Australia is a national body that brings together a network of arts and disability organisations around Australia. Together they work to increase access to the arts for the one in five Australians with a disability. One way in which they do this is to assist cultural organisations meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992. The Act requires businesses and organisations to make their goods, services and premises accessible for people with a disability. In the process a diverse range of inclusive arts projects have found support and been encouraged to expand.

In Making the Journey, Arts Access Australia wanted to celebrate these achievements and use these examples to encourage ideas for including people with disabilities in arts activities, while also encouraging people with disabilities to develop and run their own arts activities. Making the Journey was specifically prompted by a desire to promote success stories and the many developments that have taken place in the lives of people with disabilities in the last 25 years. While recognising what is good Arts Access Australia also wanted to point the way forward for further change.

The organisations discussed in this book represent just a sample of the projects and people who are 'making the journey' to widen perceptions of art and open it out to people who have traditionally been excluded from its practice.

The case studies have been drawn from both large and small organisations, and cover metropolitan and regional areas in all Australian states and territories. The organisations featured are:

The book contains contacts and resources on all the subject areas covered in the case studies including local and international disability resources, plus information about approaches to disability action plans and legal definitions.

Making the Journey: Arts and disability in Australia offers the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the passion people with disability have for the arts. The book uncovers so many strong stories - including the many that didn't make the final book. The strength and innovation found in work happening in regional and remote Australia away from the glare of capital cities makes a particularly strong impression.

Reviewed by Gareth Wreford
Executive Director
Accessible Arts NSW

This review was adapted from the book launch press release, and is based on the introduction to Making The Journey written with Mary Hutchison.

Copies of Making the Journey: Arts and disability in Australia are available online in in pdf, html and hardcopy from the Arts Access Australia network.

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