Dr Damian Palmer

  1. Dr Damian Palmer, Uniting Church Studies at Uniting Theological College, North Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia

‘Can’t I just be me?’ When the Embrace of Goals is an Act of Exclusion

One of the objects of the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme is to “enable people with disability to exercise choice and control in the pursuit of their goals and the planning and delivery of their supports.” (NDIS Act 2013, Section 3). This object reflects the commitment to a person-centred approach to disability support, an approach that recognises the right of those living with disability to make choices about their own goals. But what about those whose intellectual impairment is so severe that the notion of goals is rendered meaningless? This paper explores this question from the perspective of a parent of a child living with such severe intellectual impairment, and draws upon insights from the Christian tradition. It argues that, in cases of severe intellectual disability: (1) the embrace of goals can be experienced as an act of exclusion; (2) the support offered by a scheme such as the NDIS should enable the pursuit of ‘interests’ rather than goals; and (3) such support would enable those who share life with those living with disability to pursue their own goals.