A Fair Go For Aussies With Disabilities - Report
10 November 2003 at 12:11 pm
National disability discrimination laws appear likely to have helped Australians with disabilities and the community as a whole. But there is still some way to go before its objectives are achieved particularly in the area of employment opportunities, according to a draft report released by the Australian Productivity Commission.
The report, called A fair Go For Australians With Disabilities says many people with disabilities still face discrimination in everyday activities.
– The Act has had least effect on employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
– It has helped people with physical disabilities more than those with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.
– People in regional areas, from non-English speaking backgrounds and Indigenous Australians still face particular disadvantages.
Commissioner Helen Owens says the report has made several suggestions to help Australians with disabilities get a fair go.
Owens says the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 is an important piece of human rights legislation. But some changes could help make it work better and bring wider benefits to the whole community.
The Commission’s draft recommendations include:
– clarifying the definition of disability to ensure it covers genetic conditions, certain medically recognised symptoms, and behaviours directly related to disability
– breaking down barriers to making complaints—for example, by allowing the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to make complaints in certain circumstances
– clarifying exemptions to the Act—for example, by limiting the partial exemption for insurance to avoid discrimination based on ‘stereotypical’ assumptions about disability.
The Commission called for comment on other issues to be addressed in its final report:
– sharing the costs of improving access to jobs between government and business
– a possible ‘positive duty’ on employers to ‘identify and work toward removing barriers to the employment of people with disabilities’
– the scope for industry-developed codes of conduct under the Act.
The draft report has been released to encourage public input before the Commission makes a final report to government in 2004.
If you would like to read the draft report in HTML format at the Productivity Commission website, go to www.pc.gov.au.
The Commission is supplying a CD-rom version of the report that runs to 500 pages. If you would like to win this copy just be the first to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.