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Video Transcript

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A grand entrance

Disability isn't an issue until it's made an issue for me.

I get up in the morning like everyone else gets up.

I shower, get breakfast, help my wife, go to work, do all those sorts of things.

People sometimes make assumptions that I can or can't do something,
and I find that really, really frustrating.

I had an accident in 1989, a motor vehicle accident. I'm sure if you asked me
prior to that motor vehicle accident, "How would you deal with it?"

I would have most likely said, "I'm not sure I would have been able to cope."

But here I am, many years on, and I think I actually am coping OK.

I spent a number of years adjusting to being a person with disability, and I got to a position
where I was quite actively involved in a number of community groups, and particularly
in disability groups.

And I decided that this was something where I could really want to go
and do something.

NARRATOR: Brad Kinsela decided to study human rights at Queensland University of Technology.

I was being taught the human rights and social and equity and speaking out and actually really defending
people with disabilities and aged people, and sexual discrimination,
and speak out against... as my university lecturer,

"Speak out against the man. Take the fight to the people."

But when it came to graduation, Brad was excluded from the ceremonial parade.

The university chose a venue with no wheelchair access to the front entrance.

BRAD: I would have, as part of the graduation ceremony, had to actually go all the way
down the side of the building to the other end of this building.

The wheelchair access to the ceremonial stage is down the side and round the back.

The design positions people with disabilities as second-class citizens.

This obviously would have made me feel pretty isolated in the fact that I couldn't be with the rest of my classmates.

And I don't understand why my own university that spent three years teaching me about human rights didn't understand how it would make me feel.

The university refused to change the venue.

Brad took the issue to the Queensland Discrimination Tribunal and won.

Look, I wasn't asking them to build a new venue.

Literally within 500 metres of the venue, there's a venue that would have allowed me full participation.

The tribunal ordered the university to shift the ceremony to an accessible venue.

The commission actually saw that it wasn't actually just about me but it was also about the implications for other people
who graduate from universities.

It was a really good outcome, I think, for people with disabilities more broadly, but also the broader community.

Brad's graduation was held in the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Fellow Queenslander Kevin Cox had famously fought for this building to be designed for all Australians.

It was really about people with disabilities being able to access public buildings through the front door.

So not being treated as the other or a second-class citizen.

Kevin's case led to nationwide standards improving access in every new building.

We proved that the Australian Building Code was discriminatory, and that caused an automatic reform of the Building Code
and led to Australia developing national standards called Access to Premises.

Since the decision in '94, all new buildings have been designed and made accessible,
but it's not an obvious, stigmatised accessibility.

It's been about good design.

I'm very proud of my university.

I'm still a little bit disappointed in my university and how they made me feel even back many of those years, but...

At the same time, the lessons that I've learnt there have really positioned me well
in advocating not only for me, as a person with disabilities, but in terms of people that are disadvantaged.

It's OK to challenge.

And even if it doesn't necessarily work out, it's OK.