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Sarah

Sarah BARTON

Year of Award: 2010 Award State: Victoria Multimedia > Television And Film
Social Welfare > Disabled And Disadvantaged
To research the content for a landmark documentary about the history of the disability rights movement - USA, UK
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In 2010 Sarah Barton, from Melbourne, travelled to Europe and the United States to research the history of the disability rights movement. The resulting documentary, Defiant Lives, was released in 2017. Sarah writes in her report, ‘Having a disability can make life hard; not having rights makes it impossible.’

Towards the end of summer in 2014, I met Sarah Barton in a Melbourne café and she told me about her work and how her Fellowship changed it for the better. Sarah has won many awards, including the first Logie Award for SBS TV, in 1995.

Her first film, Untold Desires (SBS, 1994) dealt with sexuality and disability. Awards for this film include a Logie Award and an AFI award, and it is still screened regularly around the world. In 1997 Sarah wrote and directed Secret Fear a film about anxiety disorders. Her next film, A Wing and A Prayer (SBS, 2000) profiled a group of Muslim women from the Horn of Africa living in Melbourne. In 2003 she developed the award winning community television series, No Limits, which looks at living life to the fullest with a disability.

On her Churchill Fellowship Sarah met 26 individuals (including the scuba diver, Mike Letch) and visited four institutions, interviewing people and researching archival material.

A highlight of Sarah’s trip was meeting Peter Beresford, a survivor of the English mental health system. Peter talked about the importance of viewing employment as a right rather than an obligation, especially to refute increasingly populist arguments that people living on benefits are less worthy people. ‘He thought,’ said Sarah, ‘that social division is being engineered by such arguments when in reality disabled people want the opportunity to work and make a contribution to society.’

(an excerpt from "Inspiring Australians" 2015)

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