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Australia's appearance before the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Australia’s Closing Statement
4 September 2013
Madame Chair, distinguished members of the Committee.
I thank you for the opportunity to discuss Australia’s implementation of the Convention.
People with disabilities are highly valued members of Australia’s families, communities, workplaces and institutions. Australia is committed to removing the barriers that are faced by people with disabilities and accommodating their diverse needs, to enable them to enjoy their rights on an equal basis with all other Australians.
Australia is a rich country and the Committee is right to hold us to a high standard in implementing our obligations under the Convention. We believe that we are making significant progress in this regard.
Australia is proud of our record under the National Disability Strategy. Its successes in increasing employment, enhancing social participation and improving health care and personalised programs of individual support are clear.
DisabilityCare Australia is just one of a suite of initiatives that clearly demonstrates our commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme is an enormous step forward for Australia.
DisabilityCare Australia has the full support of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments and requires significant financial and resource commitments from these governments - $19.3billion Australian Dollars. The DPO and NGO support for this Scheme is well known and irrefutable. The development and implementation of this initiative has been a journey of collaboration over several years. It will mean that every single Australian who has significant and permanent disability will have a tailored personal plan to allow them to participate fully in society. DisabilityCare Australia complements the long-standing medical health arrangements that Australia has for all citizens under its medical health scheme, Medicare.
We recognise that women, children and Indigenous Australians with disabilities may face multiple intersecting disadvantage. The Australian Government is taking steps to ensure the specific needs of these vulnerable groups are considered during the development and implementation of relevant policies and programs, including DisabilityCare Australia.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act, Australia is extremely inclusive and the Act quite rightly sees impairment as a trigger for engagement with persons with disabilities. It is not a requirement that persons with disabilities have a medical condition per se. It is, in fact, the interaction between the impairment and its social manifestation for the individual that triggers assistance, access and support.
As we have demonstrated, the Convention underpins much of Australia’s work to advance disability rights. Our laws – the Disability Discrimination Act and the Disability Services Act, give effect to the Convention. And the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 ensures compatibility with the Convention is actively and publicly considered when new laws are introduced into the Australian Parliament.
Australia’s work through the aid program is shaped by the Convention and has a strong focus on active participation and contributions by people with disability. Australia is a world leader in this regard.
We thank the Committee for its time.