Guiding Vision of the Australian Disability Justice Network
In the spirit of love and justice, we, as multiply marginalised disabled people across so-called Australia, have come together to share space, organise, provide mutual aid, and care for each other through the Australian Disability Justice Network.
We recognise Disability Justice as a fundamentally anti-capitalist, anti-racist, abolitionist political framework that centres those most impacted by violence and oppression in pursuit of liberation for us all. We rely on and support each other, looking to the community for solutions, recognising that true justice cannot be achieved within or through reliance on state structures or legislative reform. We learn from and build on the work of disabled activists who came before us, and commit ourselves to cross-movement and cross-disability solidarity.
The framework of Disability Justice, developed by disabled comrades in Turtle Island, explicitly challenges the oppressive social relations and structures our current world is built upon. It allows us to see how colonialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, queerphobia, transphobia, fatphobia, whorephobia, ageism, and the carceral logics of the prison industrial system are connected. It is a lens through which we can understand ableism and the devaluing of disabled lives as emerging from a politics of disposability.
As both Indigenous and non-Indigenous disabled people living in so-called Australia, we recognise and understand the violent and disabling nature of settler-colonialism, an ongoing structure that relies on the othering, dehumanisation, and disposal of our bodies, minds, and lives. In living on sovereign and unceded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land, we recognise our responsibility to challenge and dismantle the logic of white supremacy, a logic that tells us Black minds and bodies are inferior. The most grievous and violent acts of ableism and dispossession on this continent continue to be enacted upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We cannot challenge ableism without simultaneously fighting against the criminalisation, over-policing, and over-incarceration of Blackfullas in the colony. There is no pathway towards disability justice that does not demand abolition and prioritise justice and sovereignty for Indigenous peoples.
Disability Justice demands of us a politics of solidarity, both with other oppressed peoples, and within our own community. We recognise intra-community hierarchies within disabled activist spaces and refuse conditional organising that excludes or neglects certain groups. As a network for all disabled people committed to liberation, we are committed to making connections between physically disabled people, Neurodivergent and Mad people, psych survivors, people with intellectual disabilities, the Deaf community and the Blind community.
As multiply marginalised disabled people who have been excluded from the mainstream disability community and discarded by the state, whether that be due to race, gender, sexuality, class, or citizenship status, we recognise the intersectional and compounding nature of oppression. As Audre Lorde writes, “there is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”.
Our work must consist of material, sustainable action, grounded in solidarity and love. In dreaming and struggling for a world in which we are all free, we strive to meet each others’ needs through collective access and care as we build towards liberation.