Episode 44:

Is This Discrimination?

Date released: April 2013. Updated September 2017

Partners: Australian Human Rights Commission, Paul Oliver (Oliver & Thompson Consultancy)

Following hot on the heels of Episode 43 Is This Inclusion? the theme of this episode is Is This Discrimination? Four videos to watch—you decide! The answers here are a bit more clear cut but no less important.

Following hot on the heels of episode 43 Is This Inclusion? the theme of this episode is Is This Discrimination? The answers here are a bit more clear cut but no less important.

The Australian Human Rights Commission launched a celebration of 20 years of the Disability Discrimination Act in early 2013. This celebration marked the day in 1993 that the Australian Government introduced the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)—thus making life for many people with disability in Australia a whole lot easier. Of course, the introduction of the DDA in Australia reflected similar legislative requirements in other countries across the world. Unfortunately though, there are still many countries that do not have the legislative backbone that supports its citizens with disability.

At an international level, the DDA falls under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted by the General Assembly on 13 December 2006. All signatories to the Convention agree to protect the rights of persons with disabilities from discrimination, ensuring equal treatment under the law and the universal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Which is all hugely important and necessary.

But people with disability still have to fight for their fundamental rights at times and sport can be a vehicle that demonstrates, all too starkly, disability discrimination in all its glory!

Back to the Australian Human Rights Commission celebration – they have produced a brilliant video series called Twenty Years: Twenty Stories. The entire series is worth watching – the link is at the bottom of this page – but we have picked out three of those stories that illustrate very clearly the power of sport to not only transform lives, but also to transform policy and society generally.

Do watch the videos—they are not very long but they are very powerful.

We also caught up with Paul Oliver, manager of Play by the Rules and former communications manager with the Australian Human Rights Commission to discuss the messages and lessons contained in these videos. Paul is ideally placed to comment on how individuals and organisations communicate and raise awareness about disability discrimination issues. Best to watch the three videos first then watch our conversation with Paul.

Let me win

Bang! It’s a sound most of us dread but for Sekou Kanneh, it would be a dream come true. The 12 year old is a runner but being Deaf means he can’t hear the starting gun. Instead of waiting to see when his competitors start the race, Sekou asked for a flashing light to signal the start. Like everything he does, Sekou was in it to win it, and he didn’t disappoint.


It’s a sport only for the fast and furious, but those two words haven’t meant much to Paul Gooda until recently. Since taking up wheelchair basketball, the former self-confessed book-worm hasn’t considered going back to his reclusive life. Inclusion is what the DDA was designed for, but all Paul needed was a team to call his own.

Just the ticket

The Sydney Olympics inspired pride around the nation. Bruce Maguire’s pride was short-lived. He’d promised his family tickets but when it came to finding the schedule and booking, Bruce had no chance. He needed it in Braille, he asked for it, but they said “no way.” The website wasn’t accessible either and a heated public debate ensued. Bruce spent 16 months of his life battling SOCOG before winning and setting a precedent for other event to offer accessible services.

Powerful videos!

One of the questions raised here is how do we raise awareness about peoples rights? How do we communicate effectively about disability discrimination issues so that individuals and organisations are not just aware of their rights but also willing to take action? To discuss this we caught up with Paul Oliver, manager of Play by the Rules and former communications manager of the Human Rights Commission. Watch our discussion below.

theimage_358Download the transcript for this video here

Paul mentioned a couple of resources here—Play by the Rules and the book ‘Beautiful Souls.’ You can also access the Human Rights Commission Twenty Years: Twenty Stories website.

So, what do you think? What do these stories tell you about discrimination issues in sport? Have your say—express your opinion. Maybe, you have a story to tell—we’d love to hear it.

Until next time…


About the author: Peter Downs

About the author: Peter Downs

Founding Director - The Inclusion Club

Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit.  In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.