University of Western Australia: Personal story challenges us to rethink how we approach disability

A heartfelt memoir that challenges us to rethink how we approach disability to move toward a more just and inclusive society has been launched at The University of Western Australia.

In his new book Alkira, State Government Minister and honorary fellow with The University of Western Australia’s Law School Dr Tony Buti tells the story of his daughter’s struggle to reach developmental milestones and “fit in”.

Alkira was launched by Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan at the UWA Business School last night, at an event hosted by the UWA Public Policy Institute.

UWA Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma said Dr Buti’s story of an individual and a family raised issues of public policy for everybody.

“As one of the University’s most distinguished alumni, Dr Buti’s book is a way of demonstrating that the personal is also political,” Professor Chakma said.

In 1993, Alkira Buti was born with cri du chat syndrome, a rare genetic disorder caused by a chromosomal abnormality.

Her parents knew little about the condition that would render their child “disabled”. As they searched to understand more about the syndrome and the likely future for their daughter, they learnt more about the social treatment and attitudes towards children with disabilities.

It is a story of resilience, determination, heartache and triumph for Alkira and her parents.

A combination of memoir and intellectual inquiry, Alkira also encourages debate for those who query the value of a life lived with disabilities.

Dr Buti, who worked as a law lecturer for many years at UWA, is Minister for Finance; Lands; Sport and Recreation; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests and Member for Armadale in the WA Parliament. He also wrote the biography of Sir Ronald Wilson, A Matter of Conscience.

A Matter of Conscience won the 2007 Western Australian Premier’s Book Award for non-fiction, as well as the Premier’s Prize in the same year.