People with Disability Australia (PWDA), the country’s peak disability rights and advocacy organisation, is calling for urgent Government action to end the segregation of people with disability ahead of the release of the Disability Royal Commission’s final report.
PWDA's call comes ahead of tomorrow’s final ceremonial sitting of the Disability Royal Commission (DRC), which laid bare the rampant discrimination and harm that occurs when people with disability are excluded from our schools, workplaces, housing and wider society.
Nicole Lee, President of People with Disability Australia, emphasised segregation enables the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
"The Disability Royal Commission has laid bare our everyday reality of exclusion from the community and the harm this causes. This segregation is not just a form of discrimination, it is a breeding ground for the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation inflicted on us as disabled people.
“Our segregation is perpetuated by Australia’s laws, policies and frameworks. For too long we’ve been sidelined, and our human rights have been violated; a radical overhaul is needed,” Ms Lee said.
PWDA’s response builds on the joint call from the disability community to end the violence. By embracing an urgent and radical overhaul, government can address once and for all the systemic and structural drivers of the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
"People with disability fought long and hard for our Royal Commission. It isn't enough that we've been able to share our stories; we need action, we need change, we need the segregation to end, and we need firm time commitments for when this will be delivered," Ms Lee said.
PWDA has highlighted the need for change to ensure Australia complies with international commitments and meets human rights obligations.
"The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is clear: our human rights cannot be limited or denied, and segregation cannot be justified based on impairment, diagnosis, or disability. We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure we have the same freedoms and rights as people without disability in Australia,” Ms Lee said.
As the Disability Royal Commission prepares to issue its final report and recommendations, PWDA is calling for a swift and decisive response from Governments.
“Our right to participate in all aspects of Australian life must become a reality. Overhauling housing, education and employment systems, so they are genuinely inclusive - which means desegregated and accessible - must be a priority.”
“We need national, time-bound plans that deliver change to ensure segregation is eradicated in housing, education and employment systems as soon as possible. This is the only acceptable response to the harrowing stories shared by our community during the Disability Royal Commission, as well as the countless voices that will never be heard,” Ms Lee said.