Heritage law and disability access
Heritage law - an excuse not to provide disability access?
Two UTS Social Inquiry / Law students gave a presentation during Sydney's Arts Law week in April based on the research they conducted into heritage, building and disability discrimination laws as part of an ongoing UTS Shopfront project conducted in collaboration with Accessible Arts, Arts Access Australia and the Arts Law Centre of Australia in 2007.
The Access and Heritage project is aimed at enabling arts organisations located in heritage buildings to increase access for audiences, participants and arts professionals with a disability by exploring three questions:
- Do heritage laws limit the capacity of arts organisations to provide physical access for people with a disability?
- Is there a need for legislative reform in Australia? and
- What is the best practice for arts organisations in providing access for people with a disability?
The project has involved a team of students working in tandem over two stages. In the first stage, three students, Courtney Weller, Carmen Siu and Tajan Baba, worked under the supervision of Catherine Robinson from Humanities and Social Sciences throughout second semester 2007. The second stage has seen Law student, Maria Thornthwaite working under the supervision of Jennifer Burn from the Faculty of Law researching other relevant areas of State based discrimination and building laws to complete the work.
The forthcoming report, 'Removing the Obstacles', will outline both the legal rights of people with disabilities and the obligations for cultural organisations housed in heritage buildings and also identify areas of legislative reform needed to overcome barriers to access and clarify standards for building owners.
L-R: Guest panellist Rosemary Kayess of the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre, Alison McLaren from Accessible Arts and students Carmen Siu, Maria Thornthwaite and Courtney Weller at the presentation in Sydney during Arts Law Week in April 2008.