The Australian Human Rights Commission has detailed human rights concerns for people with disability in Australia in a report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In September, the UN Committee will consider Australia’s progress in meeting its obligations to people with disability under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The Committee has received reports from the Commission (as an A-status national human rights institution), the Australian Government and civil society organisations.
This is the first report by the Commission to the Committee since the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Ben Gauntlett, was appointed in May 2019.
The report urges the Australian Government to take action to address three critical human rights issues for people with disability:
- the lack of recognition of the equal legal capacity of people with disability to make decisions and which enables and supports the exercise of legal capacity
- the unlawful or arbitrary detention of people because of disability
- the continuing practice of forced sterilisation of children and adults with disability, particularly women and girls with disability.
The report also highlights the need for a strengthened National Disability Strategy for the next decade with robust monitoring, reporting, evaluation, governance and accountability requirements.
“The National Disability Strategy, which considers issues such as transport, accessibility, employment and community expectations, provides the foundation for other policies, such as the NDIS, to achieve its objectives. In a sense, it is a critical piece of infrastructure,” Dr Gauntlett said.
Dr Gauntlett said all Australians benefit from good disability policy, not just those 4.5 million Australians currently living with disability. Ongoing efforts are needed to ensure that the rights articulated in the Convention are reflected in policies, programs and communities.
“We, the people of Australia, need good co-ordinated disability policy from state and federal Governments,” he said.
“We need it because it reflects our human rights obligation. We need it because it makes economic sense. And, most of all, we need it because it reflects the diverse and respectful society we live in.”
The report contains 68 recommendations for action by Australian Governments.
The submission can be read in full here.