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2008 Media Release: Climate change secretariat excludes people with disabilities

Commission Commission – General

12 September 2008

Climate change secretariat excludes people with disabilities

Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes today criticised the Garnaut Climate Change Review secretariat for not providing the latest draft report, released on 5 September, in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities.

“I recently said that, if things did not start to improve, the Australian Human Rights Commission would have to start naming government publishers that are not taking the effort to make their documents sufficiently accessible for people with disability,” said Commissioner Innes.

"The Garnaut Review Supplementary Draft Report, Targets and trajectories, was released a week ago, but many people with disabilities still can't access it because it is still only available in pdf format", said Commissioner Innes. "These sort of documents should be published in RTF or HTML as well as pdf so that they can be read by all Australians."

"When they released the initial Garnaut Report, the Review secretariat was contacted by a blind person who was unable to read it because it was published only in pdf format," the Commissioner said. "Yet they continue to ignore their responsibilities to make information accessible to people with disabilities."

The Commissioner said that all Australian governments have clear policies to comply with access requirements for publishing information and that the provisions of the federal Disability Discrimination Act also apply.

"The current debate about climate change is the most important issue in our lifetime, and all Australians must have the opportunity to be able to access information about it - the Review secretariat is not only out of step with government policy, it is also ignoring a basic human right of people with disabilities," Commissioner Innes said.

"The Review secretariat knows what to do, but it is just not doing it, and that is simply not good enough."

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529