Launch of WorkCover South Australia Disability Action Plan

Dr Sev Ozdowski OAM,
Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner
4 July 2002
Sev Ozdowski

Allow me to commence by paying my respects to the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet.

I also acknowledge

  • the Honourable Michael Wright, Minister for Industrial Relations;
  • the Honourable Stephanie Key, Minister for Social Justice;
  • Anne Burgess, Deputy Equal Opportunity Commissioner;
  • members of WorkCover's Board and Disability Focus Group;
  • the consultants who contributed to developing this Action Plan; and
  • other distinguished guests present today.

I am very happy to be here today. Not just because South Australia was my home for some years, as many of you know, but to recognise initiatives here in social justice and access for people with disabilities.

There is a tradition here of innovative action for disability rights.

South Australia took a leading role in national moves towards accessible public transport for example. It is a pleasure to see Mr Maurice Corcoran here who had much to do with that, both in local activism and in national negotiation and policy development.

I congratulate the Minister for Social Justice on securing Mr Corcoran's services on her Department's staff. Even more, I welcome the explicit recognition here in South Australia of disability as a social justice issue.

It is important for all government programs and policies, at all levels, to promote participation and inclusion for people with disabilities.

No public service agency can say that "disability is not our department" - because people with disabilities are not something separate from the Australian public.

With this Action Plan from WorkCover, South Australian government departments and agencies now have more action plans lodged with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission than any other State or Territory.

I need to say, though, that we are still talking about only a small proportion of South Australian departments and agencies.

The South Australian Government has recognised that disability is a whole of government issue, in its Policy Statement Promoting Independence: Disability Action Plans for South Australia.

I understand that a progress report on implementation of that policy statement has been provided to government. I look forward to sharing the results of that report once the new Government has had an opportunity to consider it.

I very much endorse the importance of monitoring and follow up, both of individual agency action plans and at a broader cross government level.

For one thing, this kind of monitoring enables us to see whether there is more that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission can do to promote development and implementation of effective action plans.

We are committed to doing as much as we can in this area within our limited resources - for example my Deputy Commissioner Graeme Innes was here in February for a cross government workshop on action plans.

A more basic reason for the importance of open follow up and accountability on the implementation of action plans is that in the end the value of an action plan is not so much in the plan but in the action it produces - actions to extend opportunity, and access, and participation; actions to enable people with disabilities to live in full equality of citizenship.

I am confident that that is the vision that people here are striving for. I wish you well in your continued efforts and I have pleasure in formally receiving this Disability Action Plan.