Government Appoints Full-Time Disability Commissioner
5 May 2016 at 3:34 pm
The federal government has appointed a full-time Disability Discrimination Commissioner – selecting former chief executive officer of People with Disability Australia Alastair McEwin for the role.
Attorney General Senator George Brandis said McEwin had been a longstanding advocate for the rights of people with disability, and had represented the interests of people with disability at all levels.
McEwin is also a former manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law.
“In addition to his extensive qualifications and experience, Mr McEwin brings to the role lived experience of the issues confronting people with disability. He will be a fantastic leader and role model for the sector,” Senator Brandis said.
Thursday’s announcement follows two years of sector disquiet after former disability commissioner, Graeme Innes’s tenure ended and the position was abolished. Later the government chose to appoint a part-time commissioner to the role.
However in March, the Turnbull government moved to restore the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner when the Attorney General’s Department placed advertisements for the full time position which is due to begin in July – the same time as the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Graeme Innes described the appointment of Alastair McEwin as “excellent”.
“He is a great advocate, very strategic, has lived experience of disability and has been involved in the sector for many years,” Innes said.
Senator Brandis also announced the appointment of Edward Santow as the new Human Rights Commissioner replacing Tim Wilson, who recently stood down to contest the Victorian seat of Goldstein in the upcoming federal election.
Edward Santow is the chief executive officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. He is a senior visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales and a former senior lecturer. Santow is currently a director of the Australian Pro Bono (Law) Centre and the University of Sydney Law School Foundation.
Former federal politician and psychologist Dr Kay Patterson has been appointed as the Age Discrimination Commissioner.
Senator Brandis said all three appointments would be for five years to ensure that the Australian Human Rights Commission had its full complement of commissioners.
“The commissioners were selected following a comprehensive merit selection process that complied with the APSC Merit and Transparency Guidelines. The selection panel included the secretary of my department, the president of the Human Rights Commission, the president of the Australian Law Reform Commission, a representative of the Australian Public Service Commissioner and a former director-general of the Queensland Department of Justice and the Attorney-General,” Senator Brandis said.
“The success of the Australian Human Rights Commission should be measured by outcomes, not by rhetoric. I am confident that these new commissioners will be strong advocates for their sectors by adopting a pragmatic and courageous approach to promoting human rights enabling the Australian Human Rights Commission to become a strong voice for all Australians, not just a select minority.”