Disability Commissioner Role Uncertain
21 May 2014 at 3:29 pm
Disability advocates have voiced their concern at the possible axing of the role of Disability Discrimination Commissioner under the Human Rights Commission, which has so far been championed by Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes.
Advocacy group People with Disability have described the move, which is part of the Federal Budget cuts, as disappointing and a retrograde step for people with disability.
“It appears the budget papers signal a combining of the Commissioners roles which could severely hamper the various access issues that people with disability face,” PWDA President Craig Wallace said.
Shawn Burns wrote in an online blog, Disability and Media Matters that while it was anticipated the position would be rolled into another Human Rights Commission portfolio (most likely Freedom Commissioner Tim Wilson’s position), the loss of a specific voice to fight for the rights of people with disability was a leap backwards.
“Mr Innes has a long list of achievements to his name since taking up the role in 2005, including the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the development of National Disability Strategy, and his successful campaign to deliver clear public announcements on NSW trains,” Burns wrote.
Graeme Innes told ABC Radio that the issues that arise week-to-week demonstrate the disadvantage experienced by people with disabilities in Australia and the need for a full-time disability discrimination commissioner with a disability.
Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs told ABC that while it's not ideal, the disability role would not be cut altogether.
“Well we've received a cut of approximately $400,000 a year over the next four years and we will have of course to reorganise our priorities and projects within the Human Rights Commission over that period,” she said.