Disability Failings Aired at International Convention
4 September 2013 at 3:32 pm
An international Disability Convention has been told Australia has made little progress in the areas of justice, employment or violence against women with disability.
The Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes made the comments in his opening address to the Disability Convention Expert Committee in Geneva.
As Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Innes said his role included education and awareness raising, and advice to government on the application of its laws and policies to people with disability.
“I am participating in the interactive dialogue as a part of the Australian delegation, but with an independent role and the right to speak independently.
“Australia is a developed country which places importance on human rights issues. Our Government has participated in the development of many United Nations human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“In relative terms, Australia does reasonably well at protecting, respecting, and fulfilling human rights. This is to be expected in view of the country’s economic capacity, and the importance placed on human rights.
“The Australian Government has outlined significant recent areas of achievement. These include our National Disability Insurance Scheme, accessible public transport, access to premises, access to services and facilities.
“Further, our Parliament has recently inquired into forced or coerced sterilisation of people with disability, and inquiries into capacity and security and restraint have recently been announced.
“However, there is less evidence of progress in other areas of access to justice for people with disability, violence against women with disability in institutional settings and also involuntary and coerced sterilisation and employment of people with disability.
“We have good working relationships with civil society and government, and share information as a basis for cooperation and progress in protecting, respecting and fulfilling the human rights of people with disability in Australia,” he said.
The Commission administers the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth). The Act makes disability discrimination unlawful in a range of areas of public life, and aims to promote equal rights, opportunity and access for people with disabilities.
Innes said the Commission welcomed the opportunity to appear before the Committee.
He said in the coming days the comments of the Australian Human Rights Commission would be focused on areas where there could be improvement.
Australia is being reviewed, for the first time, under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Australia is a signatory.
The Australian NGO delegation to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Geneva includes representatives from a number of Disabled Peoples Organisations and disability advocacy organisations.