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International Day of People with a Disability

Commission Commission – General

2 December 2005

International Day of People with a Disability

Outgoing Human Rights Commissioner and Acting Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Sev Ozdowski, has called on federal and state governments to mark International Day of Disabled Persons (3 December) by increasing their efforts to achieve equality and inclusion for Australians with disabilities in all areas of our society.

Dr Ozdowski said that with his tenure as Commissioner ending on 7 December, he had been very grateful for the opportunity to work with people in disability organisations, business, different levels of government and community organisations.

"I am happy to have played a part, along with many other people and organisations, in some achievements on the way to a society that truly provides for participation by all its diverse members," said Dr Ozdowski.

"The implementation of standards for accessible public transport; the introduction of standards for equal participation in education by students with disabilities; and progress towards improved standards for access to buildings were important areas of achievement."

However, the Commissioner also said that in many areas there was less reason for celebration.

"Supports and services for Australians affected by mental illness and their families remain seriously inadequate, as shown again in the national report 'Not for Service', which I released this year in conjunction with the Mental Health Council of Australia and the Brain and Mind Research Institute," the Commissioner said.

"I am now finalising the report of the Commission's national inquiry on employment and disability. It is clear that we need a major national strategy and effort to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities and ensure that our society benefits from the abilities of all its members.

"It is a government's responsibility to create an equal playing field so that people with disabilities can compete with able-bodied Australians on equal terms."

Dr Ozdowski also said that much needs to be done to improve services and supports to assist Australians with disabilities - from young people living in aged care nursing homes for lack of anywhere else to go, to parents and schools not being provided with sufficient resources to manage behavioural issues arising from disabilities such as autism.

International Day of Disabled Persons is part of a worldwide celebration that occurs on 3 December each year and involves disability organisations, individuals with a disability, businesses, federal, state and local governments and community organisations in events to celebrate and acknowledge the experience and ability of people with a disability.

Media contact: Paul Oliver (02) 9284 9880 or 0408 469 347

updated 2 December 2005.