This is the first in a regular legal column from Equality Lawyers (EQL) founder and principal lawyer, Natalie Wade. EQL helps people with disabilities, their families and supporters with everyday legal issues like discrimination matters, NDIS appeals and drafting their wills. It aims to inform and educate people with disabilities and
their families on their disability rights.

Knowing what your legal rights are can be tricky for anyone. Generally, people know where the law comes up in everyday life like criminal law, family law or even civil laws. For example, it is common knowledge that someone’s marriage ends, they need to get a divorce and there is a legal process for that.

Or, if someone is beaten up at the local pub, they need to call the police and the legal process will follow. But for people with disabilities and their families, there are laws and situations that specifically arise because of the lived experience of disability. It is important that you know your legal rights in those situations and who to contact for help.

If you are refused entry to the local café because of your wheelchair, or are told you cannot make your own legal decisions because you have an intellectual disability, do you know there are laws that apply? Do you know what the legal process is? Perhaps not, and it is really important you do!  

I hope that by people knowing what their rights are and how the law protects those rights, you will be better placed to defend yourself and seek help when you need.  Before I get into disability rights law, let me tell you a little bit about me. I was born and bred in South Australia and have a lifelong physical disability.

Medically speaking, I was born with “undiagnosed congenital muscular myopathy” which means I have very weak muscles. I use an electric wheelchair to get around and have support workers help me with everyday tasks like getting dressed or having a shower. I studied law at the University of Adelaide, and have a Masters of Law from the Australian National University.

I live in an Eco-House (made of recycled bricks!) in Adelaide with my husband, our two poodles and turtle. It would be fair to say that the poodles run the house and us, mere humans, just live here! When I am not running EQL and ensuring people with disabilities can access legal services, I can be found enjoying a weekend brunch, pottering around in the veggie garden or crocheting.  I can’t wait to share with you more about disability rights in Australia and how you can apply them in your everyday lives.  

If you have any questions for Natalie send to:

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