Fighting for equal rights on the international stage

22 November 2019

Associate Professor Paul Harpur from The University of Queensland’s School of Law will address the United Nations agency dedicated to advancing social justice and promoting decent work today.

The presentation to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is taking place in Geneva, with Associate Professor Harpur speaking about his research concerning disability rights and inclusion in the global job market.  

“Stark inequalities in access to work continue to be pervasive even within some of the most developed nations in our system,” Associate Professor Harper said.

“Individuals with disabilities are often presented with significant barriers which impede their right to work.

“As such, people with disabilities continue to be excluded from the labour market at much higher rates that the general population.

Associate Professor Harpur is a leading international and comparative disability rights academic and a former Paralympian.

As a prestigious Fulbright Future Scholar, Associate Professor Harpur leads a multi-university-funded project aiming to combat ableism's influence on human life.

He said he was excited to have the opportunity to contribute to shaping global research and understandings of differences in ability and approaches to work.

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to be involved in the global discourse surrounding greater inclusion in the labour market,” Associate Professor Harpur said.

“It is my dream that one day differences in ability will no longer be associated with being ‘disabled’,” he said.

Associate Professor Paul Harpur with his guide dog Sean, speaking to a colleague Dr Kathy Ellem
Pictured: Associate Professor Paul Harpur with his guide dog Sean, speaking to a colleague Dr Kathy Ellem. 


Associate Professor Harpur has been strongly involved in a number of initiatives that have helped reduce the barriers workers with disabilities face at UQ, including his work as Chair of the UQ Disability Inclusion Group and an elected members of the Academic Board.

 “Universities have the opportunity to position themselves as leaders of social change in their approach to disability inclusion,” Associate Professor Harpur said.

“We are fortunate to have leaders like Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Dunne who are taking prominent roles in ensuring we are leaders in inclusion policy and practice.”