The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has welcomed the release of the final report from the Disability Royal Commission (DRC), noting the huge significance the report’s contents will have for people with disability and their loved ones for decades to come.
Following five years of inquiry with broad terms of reference, the DRC report was tabled in the Australian Parliament today following its delivery yesterday to the Governor General. With 12 volumes and 222 recommendations, the report details the findings of Australia’s largest-ever investigation into the experiences of Australians with a disability. The implications will take some time to fully analyse. Some key recommendations noted by the AHRC include:
- A range of updates to the Disability Discrimination Act, including the creation of a positive duty for all relevant public and private sector entities to prevent disability-related discrimination before if happens, and removing the comparator test which currently requires people with disability to prove discrimination based on comparisons to people without disability. All the updates have been previously advocated by the AHRC.
- Ensuring all policies and programs at all levels of government are in greater alignment with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), an outcome fully supported by the AHRC.
- The introduction of a Disability Rights Act, the underlying purpose of which aligns with the AHRC’s advocacy for a broader Human Rights Act for Australia. The AHRC’s proposed model for an Australian Human Rights Act encompasses increased protections for people with disability.
- The creation of a National Disability Commission, a reform which the AHRC feels could potentially be realised by providing the existing role of Disability Discrimination Commissioner within the AHRC a broader mandate and additional resources.
AHRC President and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said: “The release of the report is a truly historic and transformative moment for the disability community specifically as well as Australian society more broadly.
“The DRC has provided a vital forum for truth-telling and through the course of the inquiry we have come to appreciate much more fully the discrimination, violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation that many people with disability have experienced in the past and which they continue to experience in the present. Indeed, this week’s shocking Four Corners report on restrictive practices underscores the unacceptable reality for many people with disability in this country.
“Whether it’s in homes, workplaces, schools or on the street, whether it’s in the city, the country or remote communities, or whether it’s in relation to the policies and programs of both the public and private sector, we now have comprehensive and irrefutable evidence of the personal anguish and systemic inequity that many people with disability and their families are confronted with throughout their lives.
“The establishment of the Disability Royal Commission was the result of countless calls and persistent advocacy by people with disability and their allies over many years. We commend those who came forward and thank them for their courage in sharing their stories, their trauma, and, most importantly, their hopes for the future.
“The report presents a clear vision for this future, one that allows people with disability to live free from violence, neglect and exploitation, and have their human rights and inherent dignity respected.
“We are pleased the Royal Commission has strongly and consistently recommended that any future reforms by governments or service providers must include consultation with people with disability and their representative organisations, as per Article 4(3) of the CRPD.
“As we consider the full scope of the report over the coming days and weeks, we hope government, relevant industries and our community more broadly will heed the recommendations being made by the DRC and make Australia a more equitable, just and inclusive society by protecting, promoting and fulfilling the rights of people with disability. This will enhance us all.”
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