Government legislation (Disability Services Act, 1986, 1992; Disability Discrimination Act, 1992) has been the major catalyst in humanizing the way leisure services have been provided for people with disabilities in Australia. This legislation has resulted in sweeping changes to the provision of leisure services, advocating greater independence and dignity for people with a disability and establishing processes for inclusion into community leisure programs. However in some instances, governments and voluntary agencies have been forced to respond too quickly with piecemeal planning and inadequate funding. As a result, problems such as not considering the individual needs of clients and the negative attitudes of “normal” people in the community has restricted social integration from occurring. Studies have shown that successful leisure experiences assist people with disabilities in the inclusion process, helping to break down traditional barriers between the “the able” and “disabled” members in the community. The trained recreation worker can help prepare people with disabilities by advocating an individual needs approach to assist clients to make independent choices, to become independent and have control over their own lives. In addition, the development of positive feelings of self-esteem and personal worth helps people with disabilities to develop a wider network of friends and to be seen as contributing and worthwhile members of the community.
Author Ian Patterson
Volume Vol 41, No 2 (2007)