National Disability Strategy: Australian Human Rights Commission Submission

National Disability Strategy: Australian Human Rights Commission Submission

November 2008

Introduction

The Australian Human Rights and Commission (the Commission) makes this submission in response to the Australian Government's Discussion Paper on a National Disability Strategy.

Summary

The Commission welcomes the Government's decision to pursue a National Disability Strategy based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Commission endorses the importance of a National Disability Strategy as part of the Government's Social Inclusion Agenda, noting that

  • at present people with disability and their families face many barriers to full and equal inclusion and participation in and contribution to Australian society and
  • these barriers in many cases are compounded by other sources of exclusion and disadvantage, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

The Commission agrees that a National Disability Strategy should be pursued in partnership with State and Territory Governments rather than the Commonwealth alone, with the Commonwealth having however major leadership and co-ordination roles to contribute.

A National Disability Strategy should include

  • development and implementation of more detailed disability strategies for all areas and levels of government, including through each Ministerial Council; each Commonwealth department and agency; and each State and Territory department and agency.
  • establishment of a co-ordination mechanism and monitoring framework.
  • substantially enhanced resourcing for disability representative, advocacy and advisory bodies to ensure they are able to provide the input governments will require.
  • A National Disability Strategy, while able to contain some immediate measures, will in large part necessarily set a framework for further processes of policy and program development, implementation and monitoring.

This submission recommends a series of commitments to be made to further action by reference to the Articles of the Convention. These recommendations are not intended to be exhaustive as inevitably further areas for action will be identified in the course of the consultations being conducted by the Government.

Recommendations

See appendix 1 for a list of recommendations made in this submission.

Development of National Disability Strategy welcomed

We commend the Government for its decision to commence development of a National Disability Strategy.

It is clearly correct, as stated by Ministers Jenny Macklin MP and Bill Shorten MP in their Foreword to the National Disability Strategy Discussion Paper, that people with disability encounter continuing discrimination and significant systemic barriers to full inclusion and participation in Australian communities and the social, economic and cultural life of the nation. This is clear notwithstanding significant limitations in current data collection and monitoring regarding the rights of people with disability.

The Commission endorses the importance of locating a National Disability Strategy within a broader Social Inclusion Agenda, noting that the barriers which people with disability and their families face to full and equal inclusion and participation in and contribution to Australian society are in many cases compounded by other sources of exclusion and disadvantage, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.  

Strategy based on Disability Rights Convention supported

We strongly commend the Government for its decision to pursue a National Disability Strategy based on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The rapid movement by the Government to ratify the Convention in July this year was welcomed by the Human Rights Commissioner, in common with disability community representative, advocacy and advisory bodies. We emphasise again, as the Human Rights Commissioner did in evidence to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, that

Ratification of this Convention is not a statement that Australia already fully complies with the Convention in practice. Rather the Convention presents an agenda for action and gives new opportunities for accountability for how well rights are respected.

The Convention (Article 4.1(a)) commits parties

to adopt all appropriate legislative, administrative and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

We submit that a National Disability Strategy offers the opportunity and responsibility to establish comprehensive strategies, frameworks and measures to ensure that the human rights of people with disability in Australia are

  • respected (that is, governments and their agents not acting inconsistently with human rights);
  • protected (that is, governments acting effectively to ensure that other organisations and individuals do not act inconsistently with human rights and that there are effective remedies for any instances of violations which occur); and
  • fulfilled (that is, where government needs to take positive actions to ensure the realisation of human rights in practice those positive actions are taken).

Even in relation to civil and political rights, which attract immediate compliance obligations under this Convention and under the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights applicable to Australia since 1980, it is clear that very substantial work is needed before it could be said that for people with disability in Australia these rights are fully and equally respected, protected and fulfilled.

In relation to economic, social and cultural rights it is also clear that the Convention presents a very substantial agenda for action by governments and for change in Australian society more broadly.

In our view the Convention provides a much clearer framework for the direction of social change required to ensure that human rights for people with disability in Australia are protected, respected and fulfilled than has been previously available, including through pre-existing human rights instruments.

Inevitably, any international agreement requires processes of translation into strategies for implementation in the circumstances of each nation.

Similarly, although the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in our view goes further than any previous human rights instrument in providing guidance on measures which should be adopted or considered in turning rights into realities, further and detailed processes of development and implementation of appropriate strategies remain essential. The words of the Convention, developed with very substantial Australian input and unprecedented participation by disability community representatives, point the way to the next steps now to be determined.

In August this year, Minister Shorten and Mr McClelland the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, together with the Human Rights Commissioner, the Queensland Attorney-General, and academic, government and disability community experts, joined to launch the “Human Rights Indicators for People with Disability” resource developed by the leading disability community advocacy organisation Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, through an extensive process of research and consultation.

In our view this resource, while being very closely based on the terms of the Convention, provides exceptionally valuable guidance in translating a human rights instrument negotiated internationally into measures to be developed, adopted and monitored domestically. Accordingly we recommend that all parties involved in development of the National Disability Strategy from this point and of implementation measures as part of that Strategy become familiar with the Human Rights Indicators framework developed by QAI.

Strategy involving States and Territories with Commonwealth leadership supported

We also commend the statements by Ministers in the Discussion Paper that

  • the Commonwealth is pursuing the development of a National Disability Strategy in co-operation with State and Territory Governments rather than alone; and that
  • development of the Strategy in co-operation with States and Territories includes development of a monitoring and reporting framework.

Clearly, many areas of policy, programs, services, law and regulation relevant to the rights of people with disability are administered partly or wholly by State and Territory Governments and local governments. The Commonwealth, nonetheless, as the level of government with international responsibility for Australia 's commitments under the Convention, has a particular opportunity and responsibility to provide leadership in all areas of the implementation of the Convention, including

  • assisting States and Territory Governments and local governments in developing strategies to ensure that they fully respect, protect and fulfil the rights of people with disability as recognised in the Convention and
  • ensuring accountability and effectiveness through development of monitoring and reporting arrangements for these strategies.

We recommend consideration of the following opportunities for leadership in implementation of the Convention through a National Disability Strategy.

Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include a commitment for each Ministerial Council to develop disability strategies based on the Convention as a means of ensuring that appropriate implementation actions are taken in all areas of government and in a manner which is co-ordinated between the Commonwealth and States and Territories. In this respect we note that article 4(1)(c) of the Convention requires parties to “ take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes” (emphasis added) rather than only in those areas specifically targeted at disability issues.

Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include significantly enhanced resourcing for disability representative and advocacy organisations to participate in the development and monitoring of implementation actions, in accordance with article 33.3 of the Convention.

Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include a commitment for each Commonwealth Department and agency to develop a disability strategy based on the Convention, in relation to

(a) relevant aspects of each Department and agency's specific responsibilities;

(b) elements common to all agencies, including

  • employment practices, including targets for opportunity and participation by people with disability, and adoption of flexible work practices
  • accessible premises
  • accessible service delivery
  • accessible information and communications
  • accessible procurement
  • effective consultation with people with disability.

Recommendation : A National Disability Strategy should also include

  • the same commitment from each State and Territory on behalf of its Departments and agencies;
  • commitments by the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to promote and assist in the development and implementation of disability strategies by local government.

Recommendation : A s envisaged by article 33.1 of the Convention, the National Disability Strategy should include establishment of a co-ordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels. Roles for such a co-ordination mechanism, in consultation with disability representative, advocacy and advisory bodies, would include:

  • identification of actions required under the Convention involving the areas of responsibility of more than one Ministerial Council or not clearly falling within the jurisdiction of any existing Ministerial Council
  • promoting the replication of successful strategies adopted by agencies in one jurisdiction, including dissemination to local government, private sector and other organisations
  • co-ordinating the development of the initial comprehensive report required under article 35 of the Convention to be provided within two years of entry into force of the Convention for Australia (that is by August 2010) on “measures taken to give effect to its obligations under the present Convention and on the progress made in that regard”
  • co-ordinating an ongoing process of feedback between reporting under the Convention and the further development of the National Disability Strategy and measures for implementation of the Strategy in all areas.

Immediate goals and medium term strategy and reporting

The Commission strongly endorses the recognition by Ministers in the National Disability Strategy Discussion Paper that government does not have all the answers. As recognised in the Discussion Paper this reinforces the importance of consultation, including through disability representative and advocacy organisations and advisory mechanisms. It should be noted that Convention article 4.3 states

In the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.

The same consideration of the limits of knowledge available to government strongly indicates that it would be appropriate for a National Disability Strategy to provide for a staged approach of continuing strategy development and improvement rather than being seen as a once and for all process.

Given the very broad scope of matters covered by the Convention, and the issues thus required to be addressed by a National Disability Strategy, it appears highly unlikely that even with the extensive consultations being undertaken, the Commonwealth Government or governments more generally will know by early 2009 everything they need to know in order to set out in full strategies for implementation of the Convention, including determining indicators and targets for full and (where relevant) interim compliance and the measures to be adopted to achieve these targets.

The Commission notes that

  • a number of relevant policy and program reviews of critical importance (including the tax system review chaired by Dr Ken Henry, and the pensions and welfare review chaired by Dr Jeff Harmer) will not report for some months yet
  • the Disability Investment Group has only recently commenced the important task of examining potential private sector contributions in realisation of the rights of people with disability in Australia
  • in many other areas covered by the Convention, similarly extensive processes of policy and program review appear necessary but are yet to be commenced in order to determine the particular measures which should be adopted by Government to implement the Convention.

A National Disability Strategy to be finalised in early 2009 can however contain meaningful commitments, rather than needing to be indefinitely postponed pending a large number of processes of data collection and policy review yet to occur:

  • by adopting the leadership goals set out above
  • by commitment to further measures identified in the course of the current consultation process as required by the Convention and capable of an immediate commitment

It should be anticipated that submissions from representative, advocacy and advisory bodies, in addition to the reports from more general public consultation processes, will identify a range of such measures. Recommendations identified by the Commission's consideration of the Convention to this point follow.

Measures to implement specific articles of the Convention

Legislative measures against discrimination

Convention article 4.1(b) states that parties should

take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices that constitute discrimination against persons with disabilities

Convention article 4.1(e) further requires parties to

take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability by any person, organization or private enterprise.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include the following measures:

  • implementation during 2008-09 of the reforms to the Disability Discrimination Act recommended by the Productivity Commission in 2004
  • review during 2009 to identify further reforms to ensure that the Disability Discrimination Act provides a model of best practice legislation against disability discrimination, including in providing effective remedies
  • implementation during 2009-10 through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General of harmonisation of anti-discrimination laws in relation to disability.

Promotion of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities

Article 4(1)(f) of the Convention states that parties should

undertake or promote research and development of universally designed goods, services, equipment and facilities, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, which should require the minimum possible adaptation and the least cost to meet the specific needs of a person with disabilities, to promote their availability and use, and to promote universal design in the development of standards and guidelines

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include the following measures:

  • Adoption of an accessible procurement policy by the Commonwealth and by each State and Territory Government and consideration of appropriate implementation measures including through the Australian Procurement and Construction Council and, in relation to information and communications technology, the 21. Online and Communications Council
  • Promotion by the Commonwealth and the States and Territories of adoption of accessible procurement policies by local government, major employers and education authorities
  • Commonwealth Government commitment to leading the development of networks for sharing of information on accessible procurement
  • Consideration by the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs during 2009 of options for addressing accessibility issues in consumer electronics raised in the Commission's discussion paper “ The Overlooked Consumers – 20% of the Australian Population with Disabilities and Older People: A Discussion Paper examining the Access, Challenges and Emerging Possibilities for Consumer Electronics and Home Appliances ” , released in 2007.

Access to assistive technologies

Article 4.1(g) of the Convention requires parties to

undertake or promote research and development of, and to promote the availability and use of new technologies, including information and communications technologies, mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, suitable for persons with disabilities, giving priority to technologies at an affordable cost.

Article 4.1(h) further requires parties to

provide accessible information to persons with disabilities about mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies, including new technologies, as well as other forms of assistance, support services and facilities .

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

(a) review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

  • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies, specifically in relation to employment, education and training, as well as for the purposes of independent living
  • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities
  • Review of age-based restrictions on eligibility for assistance with or access to assistive technologies including hearing aids.

(b) co-ordination by the Commonwealth of improved access, for people with disability and their families, and for employers, education and service providers, to information on available assistive technologies

(c) consideration of appropriate measures to promote development of new technologies accessible to or useable by people with disability, including the relationship of disability issues to industry assistance measures

Ensuring provision of reasonable accommodation

Article 5.3 of the Convention states that

to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include

  • Implementation of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission to amend the Disability Discrimination Act, to expressly recognise obligations to provide reasonable adjustments and to expand the capacity to make Disability Standards to specify the nature of required adjustments where appropriate
  • Commitment by State and Territory Governments to implement co-ordinated reform of discrimination laws in each jurisdiction in relation to reasonable adjustment
  • Commitment by the Commonwealth to further develop and enhance its JobAccess service to provide easy access to practical information and advice on making reasonable adjustments in employment
  • Review the usability of the Workplace Modifications Scheme in consultation with employer representatives
  • Enhanced leadership by the Commonwealth in co-ordination and resourcing of mechanisms for sharing and dissemination of information on making reasonable adjustments in education
  • Review of the effectiveness and adequacy of funding arrangements for reasonable adjustments in education

Women with disabilities

Article 6.1 of the Convention states:

States Parties recognize that women and girls with disabilities are subject to multiple discrimination, and in this regard shall take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by them of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include:

  • Commitment by all governments to ensure that women with disability are considered, and organisations of women with disability are consulted, in relation to all policies and programs in relation to women.
  • Commitment to a specific focus on health issues for women with disability as part of a national Closing the Gap initiative on health outcomes and access to health services for people with disability
  • Further review including through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the Australian Health Ministers Conference of the effectiveness of protection against performance of medically unnecessary sterilising surgery
  • Commitment to a specific focus on gender issues in development of the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy including in relation to women as carers
  • Commitment to a specific focus on women with disability in contributing to the development of a national strategy on homelessness - including accessibility and appropriateness of emergency accommodation and responses to abuse
  • Commitment to a specific focus on women with disabilities in measures to address violence against women, including in the National Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children.

Children with disabilities

Convention article 7 states

States Parties shall take all necessary measures to ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include

  • Commitment by all governments to ensure that children and young people with disability are considered in the development of all policies and programs in relation to children and young people
  • Commitment to include pre-school care and early childhood education for children with disability in review of arrangements for funding and provision of child care services with the objective of ensuring that children who require specific support or other adjustments in services are not excluded by reference to limits of availability and eligibility for funding support.
  • Review of means for improving access to before school and after school care for children with disabilities in practice including appropriateness and adequacy of funding mechanisms
  • Commitment to develop and implement strategies to promote effective inclusion of children with disability in sports including school sport
  • Commitment to improve accessibility of play and recreation facilities and equipment including consideration of development of appropriate standards
  • Commitment to include a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in all Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities

Awareness raising

Article 8 of the Convention states that parties will adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures:

To raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding persons with disabilities, and to foster respect for the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities;

To combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life;

To promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that in determining what awareness raising measures would be appropriate and effective as part of a National Disability Strategy, all governments consult closely with representative organisations of people with disability before committing resources to any large scale actions, having regard to Article 4.3 of the Convention regarding consultation.

Accessibility

Convention Article 9 states that parties will

take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public.

There are a number of initiatives under way in this area and the national Disability Strategy offers an opportunity to place these within a systematic framework including in relation to further measures to be taken.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that a National Disability Strategy include

  • Adoption during 2008-09 of a Disability Standard on Access to Premises and corresponding changes to the Building Code of Australia
  • Endorsement of this Standard and Code for the purposes of the building and anti-discrimination laws of each State and Territory
  • Commitment by the Commonwealth to lead the development of strategies to improve understanding of accessibility issues amongst building and development industry requlators and relevant professions
  • Commitment by governments to commence consultations during 2009 on needs and options for further standards development and/or other regulatory and policy measures on issues of access to premises and facilities not covered by the Building Code of Australia and the new Disability Standard on Access to Premises
  • Commitment by governments to developing strategies to improve accessibility of play and recreation equipment
  • Commitment by the Commonwealth government, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and in consultation with industry and consumer representatives of mechanisms available for promoting improved telecommunications access
  • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
  • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement the first 5 year review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport; and commitment by all Governments to develop and implement further strategies for achieving equal access to transport in practice including funding and other support for innovation beyond the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport in technologies and service approaches
  • Commitment by all Governments to provide leadership in accessible information and communication, including accessibility in published information on the World Wide Web

Convention Article 10 – right to life:

Article 10 of the Convention provides that

States Parties reaffirm that every human being has the inherent right to life and shall take all necessary measures to ensure its effective enjoyment by persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others.

This provision closely restates the terms and effect of obligations which have been in force for Australia for almost three decades under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Despite this, Article 10 presents a range of issues which a National Disability Strategy needs to address in ensuring that human rights for people with disability are respected, protected and fulfilled.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include measures to ensure that

  • the right to life is respected equally for people with disability, including by review through the Ministerial Council on the Administration of Justice of measures to ensure that lethal force is not avoidably used against people with disabilities affecting behaviour
  • the right to life is protected equally for people with disability, including review through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General of any instances in which life may be deemed less valuable because of disability
  • the right to life is fulfilled equally for people with disability, including measures to address gaps in life expectancy between people with disability and otherwise comparable members of the Australian community.

Situations of risk and emergencies

Convention article 11 states that parties will take

all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

  • commitments by all governments for effective inclusion of people with disability in emergency and disaster planning
  • in particular, measures to ensure that responses to domestic violence or homelessness effectively address the needs of .people with disability including women and children with disability

Equal recognition before the law

Article 12 of the Convention states:

1. States Parties reaffirm that persons with disabilities have the right to recognition everywhere as persons before the law.

2. States Parties shall recognize that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life.

3. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to provide access by persons with disabilities to the support they may require in exercising their legal capacity.

4. States Parties shall ensure that all measures that relate to the exercise of legal capacity provide for appropriate and effective safeguards to prevent abuse in accordance with international human rights law. Such safeguards shall ensure that measures relating to the exercise of legal capacity respect the rights, will and preferences of the person, are free of conflict of interest and undue influence, are proportional and tailored to the person's circumstances, apply for the shortest time possible and are subject to regular review by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body. The safeguards shall be proportional to the degree to which such measures affect the person's rights and interests.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to review of the adequacy of measures to provide support to people with disability to enable effective exercise of legal capacity, particularly for people with intellectual disability, acquired brain injury and people with psychiatric disabilities.

Article 12 also states:

5. States Parties shall take all appropriate and effective measures to ensure the equal right of persons with disabilities to own or inherit property, to control their own financial affairs and to have equal access to bank loans, mortgages and other forms of financial credit, and shall ensure that persons with disabilities are not arbitrarily deprived of their property.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth, in co-operation with financial sector institutions, to review by banks and financial institutions of barriers to independent use of banking and financial facilities on the basis of disability.

Access to justice

Article 13 of the Convention states that parties will

1. ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.

2. In order to help to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities, States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff.

Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to development of disability action plans by all law and justice agencies including

  • access to appropriate support services for people with disability, and in particular to people with intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, people with psychiatric disabilities or other disabilities affecting decision making capacity to fully participate in legal proceedings and processes, including as parties and as witnesses
  • appropriate supports for provided to people with disability to fully participate as jurors.

Liberty and security of the person

Article 14 of the Convention states that p arties shall

1. ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:

Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;

Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.

and

2 … shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.

Recommendation: The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to review

  • disproportionately high imprisonment rates among people with psychiatric or intellectual disability, and measures to address this including access to programs that provide alternatives to incarceration, and, for people with psychiatric disability, access to treatment and support
  • adequacy of supports for prisoners and juvenile detainees with disability during detention and on release.

Freedom from degrading treatment, exploitation, violence and abuse

Articles 15 and 16 of the Convention state that parties

    • shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
    • shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social, educational and other measures to protect persons with disabilities, both within and outside the home, from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, including their gender-based aspects.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by all governments to review of measures to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and neglect affecting people with disability, including in particular

    • review of accessibility of emergency measures such a temporary accommodation for women with disability seeking to leave abusive situations
    • review of protection from violence, abuse and neglect in institutional settings.

    Integrity of the person

    Article 17 of the Convention states that

    Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 6, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment to f urther review of the effectiveness of protection against performance of medically unnecessary sterilising surgery.

    Freedom of movement and nationality

    Article 18.1 of the Convention states that parties

    shall recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to liberty of movement, to freedom to choose their residence and to a nationality, on an equal basis with others, including by ensuring that persons with disabilities:

    • Have the right to acquire and change a nationality and are not deprived of their nationality arbitrarily or on the basis of disability;
    • Are not deprived, on the basis of disability, of their ability to obtain, possess and utilize documentation of their nationality or other documentation of identification, or to utilize relevant processes such as immigration proceedings, that may be needed to facilitate exercise of the right to liberty of movement;
    • Are free to leave any country, including their own;
    • Are not deprived, arbitrarily or on the basis of disability, of the right to enter their own country.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth to review of the accessibility and transparency of processes for determining access to visas to enter and remain in Australia (including decisions on relative costs and benefits to the community when a person with disability seeks entry).

    Living independently

    Article 19 of the Convention states that p arties

    recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community, including by ensuring that:

    • Persons with disabilities have the opportunity to choose their place of residence and where and with whom they live on an equal basis with others and are not obliged to live in a particular living arrangement;
    • Persons with disabilities have access to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance necessary to support living and inclusion in the community, and to prevent isolation or segregation from the community;
    • Community services and facilities for the general population are available on an equal basis to persons with disabilities and are responsive to their needs.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by all governments to

    • review of current funding levels and models for supporting people with disability to live independently in the community
    • respond to concerns identified by disability representative organisations regarding limited access to options for independent living
    • development of a national plan of action to address the need for life-time housing in order to ensure a sustainable housing market.

    Personal mobility

    Article 20 of the Convention states that p arties shall

    take effective measures to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for persons with disabilities, including by:

    • Facilitating the personal mobility of persons with disabilities in the manner and at the time of their choice, and at affordable cost;
    • Facilitating access by persons with disabilities to quality mobility aids, devices, assistive technologies and forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including by making them available at affordable cost;
    • Providing training in mobility skills to persons with disabilities and to specialist staff working with persons with disabilities;
    • Encouraging entities that produce mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies to take into account all aspects of mobility for persons with disabilities

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 4.1(g) and (h), the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

    • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies
    • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities.

    Recommendation : The Commission further recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to develop a strategy to ensure effective provision of information to consumers of fitness of mobility aids for travel on public transport.

    Freedom of expression and opinion and access to information

    Article 21 of the Convention states that parties will

    take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:

    • Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;
    • Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;
    • Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;
    • Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;
    • Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages.

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 9, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Commitment by the Commonwealth government, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and in consultation with industry and consumer representatives of mechanisms available for promoting improved telecommunications access
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
    • Commitment by all Governments to provide leadership in accessible information and communication, including accessibility in published information on the World Wide Web.

    Recommendation : The Commission further recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to a national review of needs and options for expanding availability of sign language interpreting including

    • training of interpreters
    • facilities for remote access to interpreting via internet links.

    Freedom from interference with privacy, family, home

    Article 22 of the Convention states

    No person with disabilities, regardless of place of residence or living arrangements, shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence or other types of communication or to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to review of the effectiveness of protection of privacy and family /intimate relationships in institutional and supported accommodation living arrangements.

    Family life

    Article 23 of the Convention states that parties shall

    take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others

    render appropriate assistance to persons with disabilities in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities

    and that (subject to the best interests of the child)

    In no case shall a child be separated from parents on the basis of a disability of either the child or one or both of the parents.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by governments to review of the adequacy of supports for parents with disability (including in relation to parents with an intellectual disability) to protect the best interests of children and avoid separation of families wherever possible.

    Education

    Article 24 of the Convention recognises the right to education and requires measures to ensure equal access to education

    Recommendation : As noted in relation to articles 4, 5 and 7 the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitments to

    • review of adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies in relation to education and training, including funding arrangements for reasonable adjustments
    • further development of mechanisms for sharing and dissemination of information on making reasonable adjustments in education
    • inclusion of pre-school care and early childhood education for children with disability in review of arrangements for funding and provision of child care services with the objective of ensuring that children who require specific support or other adjustments in services are not excluded by reference to limits of availability and eligibility for funding support
    • review of means for improving access to before school and after school care for children with disabilities in practice including appropriateness and adequacy of funding mechanisms
    • development and implementation of strategies to promote effective inclusion of children with disability in school sport
    • inclusion of a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities.

    Health

    Article 25 of the Convention recognises that

    persons with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the basis of disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to development of a national strategy to

    • close the gaps in health outcomes between people with disability and other members of the community
    • ensure equal and effective access to health services including health related information.

    Rehabilitation

    Article 26 of the Convention states that parties will take effective and appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to attain and maintain maximum independence, full physical, mental, social and vocational ability, and full inclusion and participation in all aspects of life; including through comprehensive habilitation and rehabilitation services and programmes and promotion of availability of assistive technologies.

    Recommendation : As noted in relation to Article 4.1(g) and (h) and Article 20, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

    • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies
    • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities.

    Work and employment

    Article 27 of the Convention states that parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation, to, inter alia:

    Prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability with regard to all matters concerning all forms of employment, including conditions of recruitment, hiring and employment, continuance of employment, career advancement and safe and healthy working conditions;

    Protect the rights of persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, to just and favourable conditions of work, including equal opportunities and equal remuneration for work of equal value, safe and healthy working conditions, including protection from harassment, and the redress of grievances;

    Ensure that persons with disabilities are able to exercise their labour and trade union rights on an equal basis with others;

    Enable persons with disabilities to have effective access to general technical and vocational guidance programmes, placement services and vocational and continuing training;

    Promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in finding, obtaining, maintaining and returning to employment;

    Promote opportunities for self-employment, entrepreneurship, the development of cooperatives and starting one's own business;

    Employ persons with disabilities in the public sector;

    Promote the employment of persons with disabilities in the private sector through appropriate policies and measures, which may include affirmative action programmes, incentives and other measures;

    Ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided to persons with disabilities in the workplace;

    Promote the acquisition by persons with disabilities of work experience in the open labour market;

    Promote vocational and professional rehabilitation, job retention and return-to-work programmes for persons with disabilities.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that in addition to

    • measures developed through the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy to address the obligations set out in Article 27 of the Convention, and
    • leadership measures to be adopted by all governments in their own employment practices, including targets for opportunity and participation by people with disability, and adoption of flexible work practices

    the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth, States and Territories to ensure co-ordinated action linking initiatives on employment and disability and other related issues, including

    • transition from education to employment
    • pathways from supported to open employment
    • relationships between income security and employment participation and opportunity, including need for review of measures to address costs of participation for people with disability.

    Adequate standard of living

    Article 28 of the Convention states that parties

    recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Review of measures to address costs of disability including additional costs of participation in education and employment
    • Commitment to consideration of a national universal disability insurance scheme as a potential means for addressing costs of disability and gaps and limitations in supports and services
    • Development of national strategies for universal housing design
    • Commitment by all governments to effective inclusion of people with disability in initiatives to address homelessness, noting particular issues for people with mental illnesses in this area.

    Participation in political and public life

    Article 29 of the Convention states that parties will guarantee to persons with disabilities political rights and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others, and shall undertake to:

    Ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in political and public life on an equal basis with others, directly or through freely chosen representatives, including the right and opportunity for persons with disabilities to vote and be elected, inter alia, by:

    i. Ensuring that voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use;

    ii. Protecting the right of persons with disabilities to vote by secret ballot in elections and public referendums without intimidation, and to stand for elections, to effectively hold office and perform all public functions at all levels of government, facilitating the use of assistive and new technologies where appropriate;

    iii. Guaranteeing the free expression of the will of persons with disabilities as electors and to this end, where necessary, at their request, allowing assistance in voting by a person of their own choice;

    Promote actively an environment in which persons with disabilities can effectively and fully participate in the conduct of public affairs, without discrimination and on an equal basis with others, and encourage their participation in public affairs, including:

    i. Participation in non-governmental organizations and associations concerned with the public and political life of the country, and in the activities and administration of political parties;

    ii. Forming and joining organizations of persons with disabilities to represent persons with disabilities at international, national, regional and local levels.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • commitments by all governments to achieving access to independent and secret voting for people with disability, including expanding the availability of electronically assisted voting and adopting timetables for achieving accessibility at all polling places
    • commitment by all governments to ensuring accessibility of all public information and public consultation processes

    Participation in cultural life, leisure and sport

    Article 30 of the Convention requires measures to ensure equal opportunities to participate in cultural life, recreational and sporting activities.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • As noted in relation to article 7, commitment by all levels of government to improve accessibility of play and recreation facilities and equipment, including consideration of development of appropriate standards, and a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in all Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities
    • As noted in relation to Article 9, commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
    • Commitment for Government tourism related bodies to take a leadership role on accessible tourism issues including research and provision of information
    • The Commonwealth leading the establishment of procedures to secure access for people with print disabilities on equitable terms to accessible electronic versions of all books and copyright materials published in Australia at the same time as they become available in print (rather than people with disability having to scan and convert these materials)
    • Commitment to review of levels and methods of support for participation in sport and recreation for people with disability.

    Statistics and data collection

    Under article 31 of the Convention parties

    undertake to collect appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the present Convention

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitments to commence improved collection, compilation and publication of data on disability in Australia including benchmarking on current levels of realisation of the rights recognised in the Convention.

    International co-operation

    Article 32 of the Convention states that parties recognise the importance of international co-operation and will take effective measures including

    1. Ensuring that international cooperation, including international development programmes, is inclusive of and accessible to persons with disabilities;
    2. Facilitating and supporting capacity-building, including through the exchange and sharing of information, experiences, training programmes and best practices;
    3. Facilitating cooperation in research and access to scientific and technical knowledge;
    4. Providing, as appropriate, technical and economic assistance, including by facilitating access to and sharing of accessible and assistive technologies, and through the transfer of technologies.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Continued development by AusAID of its Disability Strategy having regard to the Convention
    • Commitment to review by all relevant Commonwealth agencies of possibilities for international co-operation on disability rights issues

    Appendix: Recommendations

    Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include a commitment for each Ministerial Council to develop disability strategies based on the Convention as a means of ensuring that appropriate implementation actions are taken in all areas of government and in a manner which is co-ordinated between the Commonwealth and States and Territories. In this respect we note that article 4(1)(c) of the Convention requires parties to “ take into account the protection and promotion of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all policies and programmes” (emphasis added) rather than only in those areas specifically targeted at disability issues.

    Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include significantly enhanced resourcing for disability representative and advocacy organisations to participate in the development and monitoring of implementation actions, in accordance with article 33.3 of the Convention.

    Recommendation : The National Disability Strategy should include a commitment for each Commonwealth Department and agency to develop a disability strategy based on the Convention, in relation to

    (a) relevant aspects of each Department and agency's specific responsibilities;

    (b) elements common to all agencies, including

    • employment practices, including targets for opportunity and participation by people with disability, and adoption of flexible work practices
    • accessible premises
    • accessible service delivery
    • accessible information and communications
    • accessible procurement
    • effective consultation with people with disability.

    Recommendation : A National Disability Strategy should also include

    • the same commitment from each State and Territory on behalf of its Departments and agencies;
    • commitments by the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments to promote and assist in the development and implementation of disability strategies by local government.

    Recommendation : A s envisaged by article 33.1 of the Convention, t he National Disability Strategy should include establishment of a co-ordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels. Roles for such a co-ordination mechanism, in consultation with disability representative, advocacy and advisory bodies, would include:

    • identification of actions required under the Convention involving the areas of responsibility of more than one Ministerial Council or not clearly falling within the jurisdiction of any existing Ministerial Council
    • promoting the replication of successful strategies adopted by agencies in one jurisdiction, including dissemination to local government, private sector and other organisations
    • co-ordinating the development of the initial comprehensive report required under article 35 of the Convention to be provided within two years of entry into force of the Convention for Australia (that is by August 2010) on “measures taken to give effect to its obligations under the present Convention and on the progress made in that regard”
    • co-ordinating an ongoing process of feedback between reporting under the Convention and the further development of the National Disability Strategy and measures for implementation of the Strategy in all areas.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    (a) review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

    • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies, specifically in relation to employment, education and training, as well as for the purposes of independent living
    • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities
    • Review of age-based restrictions on eligibility for assistance with or access to assistive technologies including hearing aids.

    (b) co-ordination by the Commonwealth of improved access, for people with disability and their families, and for employers, education and service providers, to information on available assistive technologies

    (c) consideration of appropriate measures to promote development of new technologies accessible to or useable by people with disability, including the relationship of disability issues to industry assistance measures

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include

    • Implementation of the recommendations of the Productivity Commission to amend the Disability Discrimination Act to expressly recognise obligations to provide reasonable adjustments and to expand the capacity to make Disability Standards to specify the nature of required adjustments where appropriate
    • Commitment by State and Territory Governments to implement co-ordinated reform of discrimination laws in each jurisdiction in relation to reasonable adjustment
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to further develop and enhance its JobAccess service to provide easy access to practical information and advice on making reasonable adjustments in employment
    • Review the usability of the Workplace Modifications Scheme in consultation with employer representatives
    • Enhanced leadership by the Commonwealth in co-ordination and resourcing of mechanisms for sharing and dissemination of information on making reasonable adjustments in education
    • Review of the effectiveness and adequacy of funding arrangements for reasonable adjustments in education

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include:

    • Commitment by all governments to ensure that women with disability are considered, and organisations of women with disability are consulted, in relation to all policies and programs in relation to women.
    • Commitment to a specific focus on health issues for women with disability as part of a national Closing the Gap initiative on health outcomes and access to health services for people with disability
    • Further review including through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General and the Australian Health Ministers Conference of the effectiveness of protection against performance of medically unnecessary sterilising surgery
    • Commitment to a specific focus on gender issues in development of the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy including in relation to women as carers
    • Commitment to a specific focus on women with disability in contributing to the development of a national strategy on homelessness - including accessibility and appropriateness of emergency accommodation and responses to abuse
    • Commitment to a specific focus on women with disabilities in measures to address violence against women, including in the National Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include

    • Commitment by all governments to ensure that children and young people with disability are considered in the development of all policies and programs in relation to children and young people
    • Commitment to include pre-school care and early childhood education for children with disability in review of arrangements for funding and provision of child care services with the objective of ensuring that children who require specific support or other adjustments in services are not excluded by reference to limits of availability and eligibility for funding support.
    • Review of means for improving access to before school and after school care for children with disabilities in practice including appropriateness and adequacy of funding mechanisms
    • Commitment to develop and implement strategies to promote effective inclusion of children with disability in sports including school sport
    • Commitment to improve accessibility of play and recreation facilities and equipment including consideration of development of appropriate standards
    • Commitment to include a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in all Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that in determining what awareness raising measures would be appropriate and effective as part of a National Disability Strategy, all governments consult closely with representative organisations of people with disability before committing resources to any large scale actions, having regard to Article 4.3 of the Convention regarding consultation.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that a National Disability Strategy include

    • Adoption during 2008-09 of a Disability Standard on Access to Premises and corresponding changes to the Building Code of Australia
    • Endorsement of this Standard and Code for the purposes of the building and anti-discrimination laws of each State and Territory
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to lead the development of strategies to improve understanding of accessibility issues amongst building and development industry requlators and relevant professions
    • Commitment by governments to commence consultations during 2009 on needs and options for further standards development and/or other regulatory and policy measures on issues of access to premises and facilities not covered by the Building Code of Australia and the new Disability Standard on Access to Premises
    • Commitment by governments to developing strategies to improve accessibility of play and recreation equipment
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth government, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and in consultation with industry and consumer representatives of mechanisms available for promoting improved telecommunications access
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement the first 5 year review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport; and commitment by all Governments to develop and implement further strategies for achieving equal access to transport in practice including funding and other support for innovation beyond the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport in technologies and service approaches
    • Commitment by all Governments to provide leadership in accessible information and communication, including accessibility in published information on the World Wide Web.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy should include measures to ensure that

    • the right to life is respected equally for people with disability, including by review through the Ministerial Council on the Administration of Justice of measures to ensure that lethal force is not avoidably used against people with disabilities affecting behaviour
    • the right to life is protected equally for people with disability, including review through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General of any instances in which life may be deemed less valuable because of disability
    • the right to life is fulfilled equally for people with disability, including measures to address gaps in life expectancy between people with disability and otherwise comparable members of the Australian community.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • commitments by all governments for effective inclusion of people with disability in emergency and disaster planning
    • in particular, measures to ensure that responses to domestic violence or homelessness effectively address the needs of .people with disability including women and children with disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to review of the adequacy of measures to provide support to people with disability to enable effective exercise of legal capacity, particularly for people with intellectual disability, acquired brain injury and people with psychiatric disabilities.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth, in co-operation with financial sector institutions, to review by banks and financial institutions of barriers to independent use of banking and financial facilities on the basis of disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to development of disability action plans by all law and justice agencies including

    • access to appropriate support services for people with disability, and in particular to people with intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, people with psychiatric disabilities or other disabilities affecting decision making capacity to fully participate in legal proceedings and processes including as parties and as witnesses
    • appropriate supports for provided to people with disability to fully participate as jurors.

    Recommendation: The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to review

    • disproportionately high imprisonment rates among people with psychiatric or intellectual disability, and measures to address this including access to programs that provide alternatives to incarceration, and, for people with psychiatric disability, access to treatment and support
    • adequacy of supports for prisoners and juvenile detainees with disability during detention and on release.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by all governments to review of measures to prevent and respond to violence, abuse and neglect affecting people with disability, including in particular

    • review of accessibility of emergency measures such a temporary accommodation for women with disability seeking to leave abusive situations
    • review of protection from violence, abuse and neglect in institutional settings.

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 6, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment to f urther review of the effectiveness of protection against performance of medically unnecessary sterilising surgery.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth to review of the accessibility and transparency of processes for determining access to visas to enter and remain in Australia (including decisions on relative costs and benefits to the community when a person with disability seeks entry).

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by all governments to

    • review of current funding levels and models for supporting people with disability to live independently in the community
    • respond to concerns identified by disability representative organisations regarding limited access to options for independent living
    • development of a national plan of action to address the need for life-time housing in order to ensure a sustainable housing market.

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 4.1(g) and (h), the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

    • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies
    • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities.

    Recommendation : The Commission further recommends that the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by all governments to develop a strategy to ensure effective provision of information to consumers of fitness of mobility aids for travel on public transport.

    Recommendation : As noted by reference to Article 9, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Commitment by the Commonwealth government, in conjunction with the Australian Communications and Media Authority and in consultation with industry and consumer representatives of mechanisms available for promoting improved telecommunications access
    • Commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
    • Commitment by all Governments to provide leadership in accessible information and communication, including accessibility in published information on the World Wide Web.

    Recommendation : The Commission further recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to a national review of needs and options for expanding availability of sign language interpreting including

    • training of interpreters
    • facilities for remote access to interpreting via internet links.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to review of the effectiveness of protection of privacy and family /intimate relationships in institutional and supported accommodation living arrangements.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment by governments to review of the adequacy of supports for parents with disability (including in relation to parents with an intellectual disability) to protect the best interests of children and avoid separation of families wherever possible.

    Recommendation : As noted in relation to articles 4, 5 and 7 the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitments to

    • review of adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies in relation to education and training, including funding arrangements for reasonable adjustments
    • further development of mechanisms for sharing and dissemination of information on making reasonable adjustments in education
    • inclusion of pre-school care and early childhood education for children with disability in review of arrangements for funding and provision of child care services with the objective of ensuring that children who require specific support or other adjustments in services are not excluded by reference to limits of availability and eligibility for funding support
    • review of means for improving access to before school and after school care for children with disabilities in practice including appropriateness and adequacy of funding mechanisms
    • development and implementation of strategies to promote effective inclusion of children with disability in school sport
    • inclusion of a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitment to development of a national strategy to

    • close the gaps in health outcomes between people with disability and other members of the community
    • ensure equal and effective access to health services including health related information.

    Recommendation : As noted in relation to Article 4.1(g) and (h) and Article 20, the Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include review of existing programs for provision of, or assistance with access to, assistive technologies, aids and appliances for people with disability, including

    • Adequacy and effectiveness of programs providing assistance with or access to assistive technologies
    • Harmonisation of eligibility for assistance between different jurisdictions or different areas and levels of government to remove unnecessary barriers to mobility for people with disability between States or different activities.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that in addition to

    • measures developed through the National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy to address the obligations set out in Article 27 of the Convention, and
    • leadership measures to be adopted by all governments in their own employment practices, including targets for opportunity and participation by people with disability, and adoption of flexible work practices

    the National Disability Strategy include a commitment by the Commonwealth, States and Territories to ensure co-ordinated action linking initiatives on employment and disability and other related issues, including

    • transition from education to employment
    • pathways from supported to open employment
    • relationships between income security and employment participation and opportunity, including need for review of measures to address costs of participation for people with disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Review of measures to address costs of disability including additional costs of participation in education and employment
    • Commitment to consideration of a national universal disability insurance scheme as a potential means for addressing costs of disability and gaps and limitations in supports and services
    • Development of national strategies for universal housing design
    • Commitment by all governments to effective inclusion of people with disability in initiatives to address homelessness, noting particular issues for people with mental illnesses in this area.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • commitments by all governments to achieving access to independent and secret voting for people with disability, including expanding the availability of electronically assisted voting and adopting timetables for achieving accessibility at all polling places
    • commitment by all governments to ensuring accessibility of all public information and public consultation processes,

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • As noted in relation to article 7, commitment by all levels of government to improve accessibility of play and recreation facilities and equipment, including consideration of development of appropriate standards, and a specific focus on accessibility for children with disability in all Government programs of funding or other support for provision of sports and recreation facilities
    • As noted in relation to Article 9, commitment by the Commonwealth to complete and implement its review of media access including possibilities for increased captioning and audio description of television services, cinema, DVD and other media access
    • Commitment for Government tourism related bodies to take a leadership role on accessible tourism issues including research and provision of information
    • The Commonwealth leading the establishment of procedures to secure access for people with print disabilities on equitable terms to accessible electronic versions of all books and copyright materials published in Australia at the same time as they become available in print (rather than people with disability having to scan and convert these materials)
    • Commitment to review of levels and methods of support for participation in sport and recreation for people with disability.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include commitments to commence improved collection, compilation and publication of data on disability in Australia including benchmarking on current levels of realisation of the rights recognised in the Convention.

    Recommendation : The Commission recommends that the National Disability Strategy include

    • Continued development by AusAID of its Disability Strategy having regard to the Convention
    • Commitment to review by all relevant Commonwealth agencies of possibilities for international co-operation on disability rights issues.