Strengthening Disability Advocacy Conference 2017
Getting into gear for the NDIS journey

Friday 15 September @ NAB The Hall

Defiant Lives


Thursday 14th September, 2017: 10:30am - 12:30pm


NAB The Hall


Sarah Barton, Film Director

Sarah’s first documentary ‘Untold Desires’ (SBS 1994) dealt frankly with the topic of sexuality and disability and was followed by ‘A Wing and A Prayer’ (SBS 2000) and the long running series ‘No Limits’ (2003). Sarah has gained recognition by winning numerous industry and community awards.

In 2010 Sarah was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to travel to England and America to research her documentary about the disability rights movement which has evolved into ‘Defiant Lives’.

Photo of Sarah Barton, Film Director

Session Summary

Defiant Lives introduces the world to the most impressive activists you’ve never heard of and tells the story of the rise and fight of the disability rights movement in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Featuring exclusive interviews with elders (some now deceased) who’ve led the movement over the past five decades, the film weaves together never-before-seen archival footage with the often-confronting personal stories of disabled men and women as they moved from being warehoused in institutions to fighting for independence and control over their lives.

Once freed from their imprisonment, disabled men and women took on the big charities, criticising the use of celebrities to beg on their behalf. They chained themselves to public transport around the world and demanded access “to boldly go where everyone else has gone before”; and they lobbied for support to live ordinary lives in the community with family, lovers and friends.

Defiant Lives is a triumphant film full of extraordinary characters who put their lives on the line to create a better and very different world where everyone regardless of impairment is valued and can participate.

This very special screening will be followed by a Q&A session with Sarah Barton, the Producer of this high impact insightful documentary.



Defiant Lives Official Trailer from Sarah Barton on Vimeo.


The protest and power of disability activism: ‘It’s not as sexy as gay rights or climate change’
Luke Buckmaster, The Guardian Australia,  17 Jul 2017

“When you talk about disability rights with people, they just look at you like they didn’t think such a thing existed,” says Dr George Taleporos. “People don’t like talking about, hearing or watching disability. It’s not as sexy as gay rights or climate change. It’s just not.”

Drawing on research from experts such as Taleporos, Barton’s documentary asserts that this hero/pity narrative created a negative stigma that still has powerful implications today. It is associated with the medical model of disability, which is often criticised for treating people with disabilities as lacking or abnormal – or as if they are sick and in need of a cure.


The protest and power of disability activism: ‘It’s not as sexy as gay rights or climate change’
Rated M for mature audiences | 85 mins