How Effective Has It Been So Far? What Can Be Achieved In Its Second Decade?

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM,
Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Summit For Peak Disability Organisations In Australia
Human Rights And Equal Opportunity Commission
4-5 December 2001

Sev Ozdowski

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and welcome to you all.

As is my custom, I commence by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Eora people.

I am particularly pleased to welcome the Honourable Daryl Williams, Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, who has kindly agreed to open our proceedings.

The Attorney-General is the Minister with formal responsibility within the Federal Government for the Disability Discrimination Act.

But I wish to extend to the Attorney a more than formal welcome, and publicly acknowledge the steadfast support he has given in particular to the process of developing standards under the Disability Discrimination Act.

This process is aimed at making access and equality in key areas a reality for Australians with disabilities, by translating the general terms of discrimination law into more detailed provisions, to describe what a non-discriminatory world should look like and provide a plan for getting there.

The road towards standards has been longer and more demanding of time and resources than anyone could have expected when the DDA was passed in 1993 or when the Attorney took up office in 1996.

So I thank him for maintaining support for this process:

  • through funding for consumer representation;
  • through continuing to dedicate some of his Department's scarce personnel resources to this issue;
  • and in terms of personal interest and political support.

As we said in the initial invitation to this meeting, we are now into the tenth year since the DDA was passed.

Since that time the Commonwealth Government has also developed two versions of a Commonwealth Disability Strategy, which extends into some of the wider human rights issues which are not addressed by the DDA.

This summit over the next two days is intended as the start of a process, over the next twelve months, for HREOC to work with peak disability organisations to establish directions and priorities for the second decade of the DDA.

We want to:

  • take stock of how far we have come to date in implementation of the DDA and the Disability Strategy;
  • review and assess the most effective strategies for using the DDA to achieve the elimination of disability discrimination; and
  • work on formulating an appropriate agenda, priorities and plans of action for implementation of the DDA in its second decade - for HREOC and for other organisations here.

Before I hand over the chairing of this meeting to Deputy Disability Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes, let me invite the Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, to open our meeting.

Other papers from this meeting are also available