Graeme Innes: If you could choose the legacy you leave behind, what would it be and why?

Graeme Innes: If you could choose the legacy you leave behind, what would it be and why?

'People with disabilities,' argues Graeme Innes, 'are viewed by the Australian community either as heroes who have overcome challenges or as victims deserving of charity and welfare. But most of us just want to be viewed as agents of our own destiny, getting on with our lives in the community. We’re limited by the soft bigotry of low expectations – if the bar is set low, that’s as far as most of us will go. So changing community attitudes changes lives.'

Innes has been a human rights practitioner for more than thirty years. From 2005 to 2014, he acted as Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner, and helped draft both the Disability Discrimination Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He has won cases against major companies who have been seen to discriminate against visually-impaired customers, and has petitioned major retailers for the increased employment of people with disabilities.

In this short lecture, Innes shares his thoughts on how he'd like to be remembered – and what we can do to ensure our own legacies are positive ones.


Portrait of Graeme Innes

Graeme Innes

Graeme Innes is a lawyer, mediator and company director. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than 30 years.

Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for almost nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights. In this role he led work on issues including the ratification by Australia of a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities, the Same Sex Same Entitlements inquiry, and three inspections of Australia's immigration detention centres.

He is currently the chair of the Attitude Australia Foundation, a startup aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities. His memoir, Finding A Way, was published in 2016 by UQP.


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