People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is calling for urgent reform to ensure the human rights of people with disability are upheld in Australia, outlining 10 actions that all Australian governments must prioritise.
The call comes ahead of the release of the Disability Royal Commission’s Final Report, which is due to be made available to the public on Friday, and which will highlight the human rights breaches experienced by people with disability across every state and territory in Australia.
PWDA President Nicole Lee says the release of the report presents an opportunity for all Australian governments to address long-standing inequalities and ensure people with disability are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.
“We now have a Royal Commission’s worth of stories of systemic human rights failures endured by disabled people and even this week on Four Corners more have come to light. Our laws must change so that disabled people have equal access to human rights just like everyone else. We need robust laws that ensure our basic rights are upheld - like our right to be educated alongside our peers, to live independently in the community, to not be subjected to physical restraint, seclusion or forced treatment,” said Ms. Lee.
While Australia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2008, the country has a long way to go in meeting its obligations under the treaty.
“Throughout the Disability Royal Commission we heard thousands of stories of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, including my own. We know that just because the Royal Commission has finished it doesn’t mean the violence and abuse has stopped. It’s clear that Australia's human rights protections are inadequate,” said Ms. Lee.
Key to ensuring human rights protections is intergovernmental action spearheaded by the Federal Government.
“We need leadership now, and that leadership needs to come from the top to make our rights real and equal, and the people in power need to change how they act, and the institutions that affect our lives need to change their rules and how they are run.”
"We must also confront the ableism that contributes to the violence faced by people with disability. By tackling ableist structures, attitudes, and behaviours, we can prevent such violence from occurring in the first place,” said Ms. Lee
PWDA is calling on the Federal Government to enact national human rights legislation that upholds the rights of all Australians, including people with disability, and has today outlined 10 actions Australian governments must take in response to the Disability Royal Commission. These are:
Address the drivers of and end segregation of people with disability in all settings and contexts
Ensure all people with disability enjoy legal capacity and equality before the law.
End all forms of forced treatments and restrictive practices, including seclusion and restraint.
Ensure people with disability, particularly women and girls, enjoy their sexual and reproductive rights on an equal basis as others.
Urgently address indefinite detention and deprivation of liberty of people with disability, particularly First Nations people with disability, people with intellectual disability, and people with psychosocial disability.
End discrimination against migrants and refugees with disability.
Urgently address the over-representation of people with disability living in poverty and ensure an adequate standard of living and social protection.
Ensure full participation of people with disability, including through their representative organisations, in all matters that affect them.
Implement a full Disability Royal Commission Redress and Reparation Scheme.
Undertake reform of Commonwealth, State/Territory laws to ensure compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
PWDA believes a comprehensive, coordinated, and intergovernmental approach to address these issues and ensure the protection of the human rights of all people with disability in Australia is the only acceptable response to the Disability Royal Commission.
“What we heard throughout this Royal Commission should never have happened. We need all levels of government to commit to reforming our laws so they recognise disabled people’s human rights and provide effective remedies when our rights are infringed. That is how we will end the violence and abuse once and for all,” said Ms. Lee.