The Independent Living movement emerged during the 1960s and 70s. People living with disability began to advocate for increased choice and control regarding community services such as peer support, personal assistants, employment, and housing. The aim was to empower people living with disability and prevent dependency.
The Independent Living philosophy was then considered from a rehabilitation perspective by Gerben DeJong. DeJong outlined the Independent Living paradigm and argued the rehabilitation process could empower people living with disability through being an educational, not a medical, process. Health professionals should support rather than control.
The founder of the Burwood Academy, Alan Clarke, found DeJong’s Independent Living paradigm incredibly appealing. Clarke and DeJong became good friends and Clarke envisioned the Burwood Academy as a research organisation based on the Independent Living paradigm – particularly the notions of self-determination and empowering people living with disability.
Accordingly, the goal of the Academy became to facilitate research and education that is accountable to people who have a lived experience of disability. This occurs through the engagement of people living with disability on research activities, employing education initiatives (such as workshops and work experience) to build research skills and capacity, and recognizing and validating lived experience of disability in all of our work.
In May 2019, BAT published a paper to explain what Independent Living means to us entitled ‘The Burwood Academy: incorporating the principles of the independent living paradigm into rehabilitation research’. The purpose of this paper is to describe how the principles of the Independent Living paradigm have been used to develop a guiding framework for BAT. READ HERE
Burwood Academy Trust was originally called the Burwood Academy of Independent Living (BAIL) and you may still see this name around in some older communications. In 2021, our name was shortened to Burwood Academy Trust to provide clarity that we are not a provider of residential support. However, the original name references this strong foundation of the independent living paradigm within our mahi.