Review of Disability Act
20 January 2004 at 12:01 pm
Public Hearings Begin in 2004
Following the release of the Draft Report into the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 in October last year, the productivity Commission will hold its first national public hearings from late January through to March 2004.
The Commission’s Draft Report found that the current Act appears likely to have benefited Australians with disabilities and the community as a whole. But there is still some way to go before its objectives are achieved.
It 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 Commission has made several suggestions to help Australians with disabilities get a fair go’.
Owens says the Disability Discrimination Act 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 has 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.
Some 281 submissions have been made to the Productivity Commission, 33 since the Draft report was released.
The Public Hearing dates are as follows:
Commencing Thursday 29 January 2004
David Spence Room
Adelaide Town Hall
128 King William Street
Commencing Tuesday 3 February
Arthur Boyd Room
Saville Park Suites
84 Northbourne Avenue
Commencing Wednesday 11 February
156 Bathurst Street
Commencing Monday 16 February
Trades Hall Room
Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney
72 Liverpool Street, Darling Harbour
Commencing Wednesday 25 February
Rattigan Room, Level 28
35 Collins Street
For details on how to make a submission and obtain a Registration of Interest form check out the Productivity Commission web site at www.pc.gov.au/inquiry/dda/index.html, or contact the Freecall number on 1800 02 00 83.