Disability Access, Justice and Inclusion in the Uniting Church
Uniting Church response to Disability Royal Commission report
The Uniting Church in Australia welcomes the final report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, affirming its vision for a more inclusive Australian society.
“We welcome the final report of the Disability Royal Commission today and commit to taking seriously its calls for change to transform our society into one that is more inclusive and which respects and protects the rights of people living with a disability,” said Uniting Church President Rev Sharon Hollis.
Uniting Church Values Statement in relation to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
In 2018 the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia affirmed that:
- Christ is most fully present when all people in the Body are unconditionally accepted as people of worth. All people are created in the image of God, including people with disability;
- along with all members, the faith, gifts, hopes and dreams of people with disability are to be valued and honoured; and
- God is a God of justice and peace, who seeks reconciliation amongst all people.
In seeking to be a community of reconciliation, the Uniting Church acknowledges that for many people with disability its life and faith has not always borne witness to this vision. The Uniting Church seeks:
- to embody a community life that in its theology and practice is accessible to all people;
- to ensure that within its own life people with disability are treated justly and have their hopes and rights realised; and
- to advocate for justice and equality for people with disability in the wider community.
The Uniting Church welcomes the establishment of a Royal Commission to inquire into what governments, institutions and the community must do to build a society in which people with disability feel included, supported and have their human rights respected. We wholeheartedly endorse the focus as set out in the Letters Patent and pledge ourselves to cooperate fully and openly.
The Commission has been designed to maximise the participation and contribution of people with disabilities in this inquiry. The Uniting Church supports this approach, which will give voice to those who have suffered violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation and will call the rest of the community to listen.
The Uniting Church’s values are founded on Jesus’ witness to the love of God for all people and God’s desire for us to live abundant lives, where we are valued and respected for who we are. Where people are prevented from flourishing, and are denied a voice, the Uniting Church is committed to advocacy and contributing to a just and inclusive society.
We strive to be a Church that welcomes and includes people with disabilities in our congregations, schools, services and communities. As providers of disability services, we strive always to provide high quality, compassionate care in an environment of transparency, accountability and continuous improvement.
We regret those times when we have not shown the compassion and care of Christ and deeply apologise. Whatever challenges and issues arise, we are determined to meet them in order to better serve the needs of people and communities we serve.
We look forward to working alongside people with disability and their families and advocates in envisioning and realising a society where disability is no barrier to participation and in which the gifts, hopes and dreams of all people are valued and honoured.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Disability Royal Commission
Disability Access Guidelines
In keeping with its biblical imperative to welcome all people, the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia resolved to adopt the Disability Access Guidelines. Rev Andy Calder, Disability Inclusion Advocate for the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, developed the Guidelines for the Assembly based on his work in Victoria/Tasmania. These Guidelines are now in place across the Assembly.
The Transforming Worship Circle has created a liturgy that acknowledges both the experiences of exclusion and embrace for people with disabilities. Titled Called to be a Church for All, the liturgy is the result of the 15th Assembly’s commitment to justice and inclusion regarding people with disabilities.
See more about the liturgy here, or download below.
Reflections on Disability
DDA is in our DNA
In this article from the Growing in Faith Circle, Rev. Dr (Deacon) Andy Calder explores how the Uniting Church is called to embody a community life that in its theology and practice is accessible to all people.
Disability and the Bible
Rev. Dr Kylie Crabbe writes about how disability is portrayed in the Bible and how it might be read from a disability perspective.