Statement to the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Australian national statement
Statement by Dr Nick Hartland
Group Manager, Disability and Carers
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Mr Chairman, since Australia's ratification of the Disabilities Convention three years ago, Australia has made significant strides in improving outcomes for persons with disabilities.
In March this year the Australian Government officially launched its first
ever National Disability Strategy. The strategy was developed, and will be implemented,
in consultation with persons with disability along with their families, carers
and other key stakeholders. The strategy outlines a ten-year national policy
framework to improve the lives of persons with disability, promote participation,
and create a more inclusive society. It is also an important mechanism to ensure
that the principles underpinning the Convention are incorporated into domestic
policies and programs and will contribute to meeting Australia's reporting
responsibilities under the Convention.
The strategy will guide cohesive public policy-making across all levels of
Australian government and aims to bring about comprehensive change not just
in specialist disability support services, but in all mainstream services and
programs. This represents a real shift in thinking for public policy-making
in Australia. This year the strategy's focus is on building the foundation
for enhanced implementation of the Convention which will involve engaging mainstream
areas such as housing, education and health.
In February 2010, as part of the development of this strategy, the Australian
Government commissioned its Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry
to examine a range of approaches for providing long-term care and support for
persons with disabilities. The role of Australia's Productivity Commission
is to help governments make better policies in the long-term interest of the
Australian community and is the Australian Government's independent research
and advisory body on economic, social and environmental issues affecting the
welfare of Australians.
The Productivity Commission's final report, released in August, recommended
that a National Disability Insurance Scheme and a National Injury Insurance
Scheme be created to provide all Australians with insurance for the costs of
support if they or a family member acquire a significant disability.
The recommendations of the report would involve Australia funding and delivering
care and support services to people with disability and their families in a
fundamentally different way. The Council of Australian Governments – which
is the peak intergovernmental body in Australia, charged with harmonising policy-making
across all levels of Australian government – has agreed to progress quickly
foundation reforms for a national Disability Insurance Scheme and to work together
to consider the Productivity Commission's recommendations.
The reforms contemplated as a part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme
would aid in fulfilling the Convention's focus on choice, participation,
social inclusion, independence and the provision of an adequate standard of
living. I hope this overview of Australia's recent disability reform agenda
assists the States Parties in understanding Australia's aspirations to
create disability policy based on social inclusion.
Australia's commitment to upholding and advocating the rights of persons
with disabilities extends beyond our borders. Australia is internationally recognised
as a leading donor in the field of disability and development and is committed
to ensuring that our aid is inclusive of, and accessible, to persons with disabilities
in line with Article 32 of the Convention. Australia expects to spend over $140
million on developing and implementing this strategy to 2015. This includes
around $80 million for improving the quality of life of persons with disabilities
and over $66 million for preventing avoidable blindness.
Australia's work on disability-inclusive development is guided by our
world-class strategy, "Development for All: Towards a Disability-Inclusive
Australian Aid Program". The Convention provides the guiding framework
for the Development for All strategy. Developed following an extensive consultation
process, the strategy employs a twin-track approach: both to mainstream disability
inclusive processes throughout Australia's aid program as well as to support
necessary disability specific activities. This work has been given further momentum
recently with the Australian Government releasing a new framework for Australia's
aid program which includes "enhancing the lives of people with disabilities"
as one of the aid program's ten key development objectives.
Two years into the implementation of this "development for all"
strategy, there are strong signs that our approach is working. Persons with
disabilities are benefiting from improved access to education and scholarship
programs, and from more accessible public infrastructure. Australia is also
supporting research on disability and development, the capacity building of
disabled persons' organisations (DPOs) as well as assisting partner countries
in Asia and the Pacific to ratify and implement the Convention – in particular
Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Timor Leste and Cambodia.
I am pleased to announce today funding of $1.2 million dollars to the Disability
Rights Fund and $900,000 to the Pacific regional DPO, the Pacific Disability
Forum, to support the important work of DPOs in advocating for signing and ratifying
of the Convention, and help ensure its implementation. Australia is also looking
to support practical initiatives focused on the protection, access and inclusion
of refugees and displaced populations with disabilities in humanitarian crises
– following on from the discussion at last year's Conference of
States Parties on this vital issue.
We look forward to participating in a constructive discussion at this Conference
on how to better implement the Convention and ensure its objectives are fully
realised to benefit all persons with disabilities.