Australia Denied Full Time Disability Discrimination Commissioner
16 November 2015 at 10:44 am
Australia will be without a standalone Disability Discrimination Commissioner for at least another eight months, Attorney General George Brandis has announced.
Senator Brandis has reappointed Susan Ryan to the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner, a position she has held since July 2014 in conjunction with her role as Age Discrimination Commissioner.
Brandis said Ryan would hold the dual portfolios until at least 28 July 2016.
Graeme Innes held the disability portfolio for nine years until the Abbott Government abolished the full-time position.
He told Pro Bono Australia News on Monday that he was disappointed that the Turnbull Government refused to appoint a separate Commissioner to tackle disability discrimination.
“Susan does the best job she can as her second job, but the disability field needs a full time Commissioner with lived experience of disability,” Innes said.
Innes, who was born blind, has been supported by other advocates in his call for a person with disability to be appointed to the position.
He is planning on publishing a book on July next year, entitled Finding A Way, which he said would address the subject in detail.
But Brandis said Ryan was “a strong advocate for the rights of people with a disability”.
“She is currently leading Willing to Work, the Commission's national inquiry into employment discrimination against older persons and persons with a disability,” Brandis said.
“Consultations are currently being conducted across Australia, which will inform the Commission's recommendations when they report to Government by July 2016.”
On the 12 month anniversary of the abolishment of the full-time Disability Discrimination Commissioner position, a spokesperson for Senator Brandis said it was not unusual for Commissioners to hold more than one portfolio.
“There have been many dual commission arrangements in place under previous Governments. Nearly every Disability Discrimination Commissioner has had a dual commission since the position was created under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992,” the spokesperson said.
“Indeed, Mr Innes held a dual commission for six out of the nine years he was in that position. The Commission continues to provide a strong voice for the disability community under the arrangements for Commissioner Ryan’s dual appointment.”