How we helped Paul take part in community life

How we helped Paul take part in community life

In 2009 Paul was banned from all buildings owned, operated or managed by his local council, the Manningham City Council because of his disabilities. 

Read how we helped Paul enjoy the same freedoms as other ratepayers and encouraged local councils to change discriminatory practices.

Our client Paul and Program Manager, Equality, Aimee Cooper
L–R: Our client Paul, Program Manager, Equality, Aimee Cooper

In 2009 Paul was banned from all buildings owned, operated or managed by his local council, the Manningham City Council, after it was alleged that he was disruptive at council meetings and abusive towards staff.

Paul's diagnosed disabilities included bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, compulsive disorder, an acquired brain injury which resulted from a stroke, and a hearing impairment.

Stopped from taking part in community life because of his disabilities

Paul, represented by our Equality Law Program, complained that the ban discriminated against him because the alleged behaviours were caused by his disabilities. During the five years of his ban he was not allowed to participate in everyday activities that most ratepayers take for granted.

'He missed out on things like taking his grandchildren to the swimming pool, and said he felt like a second-class citizen because he hasn’t been able to use public toilets or go to the local library,' said Aimee Cooper from our Equality Law Program.

How we helped get a groundbreaking decision for Paul

The groundbreaking decision in VCAT, which lifted the five-year ban, resulted in the first order ever in Australia for an organisation to undertake human rights training. All directors and councillors were required to undertake training under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act. This served as a watershed for other councils across Victoria about treatment of their ratepayers.

Paul said going before the tribunal was very cathartic and helped him move on with his life.

'I felt demeaned and embarrassed by the ban, and I wanted to fight it to highlight discrimination and help other people in similar situations,' he said.

'I wouldn’t have had the strength to defend myself in the system without Victoria Legal Aid coming along to help me. I’m really proud that this decision is a landmark in establishing the rights of other people like myself who have a disability.'

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