Having separate Commissioners for each portfolio, at the Australian Human Rights Commission seems much more logical. It also looks like the Commission is getting some fresh resources and that is always good. The issues and debates covered by each arm of the Commission and the groups they talk to, with and advocate for are similar but diverse and need a full time specialist with the time and resources to move the agenda forward. In my mind though it doesn’t follow that the advocate must always be one of that community.
I’m not surprised that Commissioner Innes is taking on the full time role for disability. I like him a lot and he is great in the role. Articulate and observant, with an ability to get those who don’t have a direct experience to “get it”. He also commands enough respect among those of us who do have the experience to be a leader among us. Not an easy job.
I follow him on various social media platforms and my eye is drawn to his updates regardless of whether they are on race or disability. I have heard him speak on race issues too. I have read his words. I get “it” too now at least a lot more than I did. Part of the power in his arguing for racial tolerance is the fact that while he clearly understands marginalisation, he is white. Yet he is passionate. There was value for me in that I found myself listening more closely I think because it changed the way I valued the argument.
I understand the whole argument of nothing about us, without us. I know the value of direct representation. We need to be at the table, front centre and visible. All the time. We must be there.
All I’m saying; there is power when someone outside the obvious circle makes our arguments powerfully too. We value add. Different voices, especially perhaps unexpected voices, bring a different power and different people to the table to listen and learn.
Maybe that’s a sign of true inclusion.
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