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National Disability Strategy Future Forum: Beyond 2020

Disability Rights

The Australian Human Rights Commission and the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health

National Disability Strategy: Beyond 2020 webinar

September 24, 2020

Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Introductory Address

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests;

Good disability policy benefits all Australians, now and in the future.

On behalf of the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health and the Australian Human Rights Commission I’d like to welcome you to our webinar for the National Disability Strategy: Beyond 2020.

My name is Ben Gauntlett and I am the Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. I will be facilitating the panels today. I’ll be making brief introductory remarks explaining the programme shortly but before that I’d like to invite Mr Damian Griffis of First Peoples Disability Network to do an Acknowledgement of Country.

Thankyou Damian and thank you to everyone who has joined us for today’s discussion. I’d like to also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today and pay my respects to Elders past and present. We have more than 800 registered attendees, which is an excellent turnout.

Our event today has three objectives. First, to encourage people to make submissions on the National Disability Strategy Position Paper (July 2020). Second, to promote the importance of research, evidence and data when formulating disability policy. Third, to encourage all members of the community to take an interest in the broad range of policies affecting people with disability now and in the future. Not just the 4.4 million Australians who presently have a disability; not just the people with disability and their families and support networks; everyone.

As the National Human Rights institution, the Australian Human Rights Commission is deeply interested to ensure we have a National Disability Strategy that is reflective of human rights considerations and acknowledges our community values of diversity and inclusion. To properly do this, we need all levels of government to be aware of the importance of objective evidence, data and accessible information for people with disability. Therefore, we are holding this event jointly with the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health, which is a cross university collaboration that aims to gather the evidence needed to guide social and health policy reform for people with disability in Australia.

We have sought to keep our panels and intervening videos short and with a lot of presenters to ensure a variety of views. Today our first panel will look at what the previous National Disability Strategy will be remembered for and whether we should adopt a similar approach in the future. Our second panel will consider what is the role of National Disability Strategies in Australia and overseas. Finally, our third Panel will look at specific issues under the National Disability Strategy.

Ten years ago, when all levels of government were considering a National Disability Strategy following the Shut-Out report, the issues were different but the underlying concern of the rights, opportunity and well-being of people with disability was the same. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had just been signed and ratified by Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme was about to commence, and questions existed whether our laws protecting the human rights of people with disability were fit-for-purpose.

Ten years later, a considerable amount of effort has gone into reviewing the previous Strategy and consulting as to the new Strategy. This has led to the development of a Position Paper, which seeks to consider the good aspects of the previous Strategy and learn from some of the challenges faced.

The Position Paper seeks to follow (with minor amendment) the previous National Disability Strategy’s approach concerning its vision and outcome areas. The “vision" suggested is, “[a]n inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal members of the community” and the “Outcome areas” being: first, economic security; second, inclusive and accessible communities; third, rights protection, justice and legislation; fourth, personal and community support; fifth, learning and skills; and, finally, health and wellbeing.

However, the Position Paper also seeks to make improvements in the new Strategy by relying upon guiding principles, an increased focus on community attitudes, strengthening accountability (including by clearly describing roles and responsibilities; monitoring outcomes and reporting), better promoting and communicating the Strategy (through Targeted Action Plans and an Engagement Plan) and focusing upon Workforce development.

I acknowledge it is a stressful time for people with disability in Australia. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused understandable unrest with many people with disability questioning how they are perceived in society. There are also significant concerns with reforms in the NDIS and the issues raised by the role of people with disability in the Disability Royal Commission. But the Strategy is, in a sense a critical piece of infrastructure, upon which other policies build off. We need to get it right and we need people with disability to be central to its implementation and assessment for the next decade.

Dr Ben Gauntlett

Dr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Disability Rights