As the Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan today adds Disability Discrimination to her portfolio, she's announced plans to hold a National Disability Forum to work out ways she can improve lives for Australians with disabilities.
Commissioner Ryan has taken advice from the recently departed Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, who earlier this month called for a jobs plan to engage people with disabilities in the workforce.
"I want to reinvigorate a national discussion and what better time to do this than now, as the Government considers significant changes to the welfare system, including the disability support pension," said Commissioner Ryan.
In preparation for the forum the Australian Human Rights Commission will shortly release a survey asking people with disabilities to identify the key issues that they face, especially in relation to access to jobs. This will be used to inform discussion at the National Disability Forum (to be held in September) and to guide the development of the Commission’s future work priorities in advancing the rights of people with disabilities.
“The barriers people with disability face, start from the moment a person leaves their house: is there reliable, accessible transport to get to work? It continues as they reach a workplace: Is the workplace design accessible? Are there flexible workplace practices that can accommodate people’s distinct needs? And it continues on with prevailing attitudes and stereotypes about what people with disabilities are capable (or more commonly, deemed incapable) of achieving,' she said.
“We know that the cumulative effect of these barriers is that too many talented Australians are not in the workforce when they could be."
Commissioner Ryan is officially Acting Disability Commissioner until a permanent appointment is made.
“I look forward to continuing the Commission’s work under the Disability Discrimination Act,” said Commissioner Ryan. “Initially, I will do so by focusing on the area where there has been inadequate progress over the past twenty years – creating employment opportunities.”