Concluding observations on the combined second and third periodic reports of Australia - 15 October 2019
Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- This submission is made by the Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission), an ‘A status’ national human rights institution established and operated in compliance with the Paris Principles.
- The Commission has a statutory power to promote and protect human rights under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRC Act). The AHRC Act defines ‘human rights’ to include the rights and freedoms recognised or declared in any relevant international instrument. This includes the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
- The Commission also has the power under the AHRC Act to investigate and conciliate complaints made under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) (DDA) by people who experience direct or indirect discrimination. Further information about the Commission can be found at www.humanrights.gov.au.
- The Commission welcomes the opportunity to provide a written contribution ahead of the Committee’s consideration of Australia’s 2nd and 3rd periodic reports under the CRPD and to engaging with the Committee during its 22nd session.
- The Commission’s proposed recommendations are contained in the body of this submission and compiled in Attachment 1.
2. Priority areas
- The matters addressed in this submission are all of importance to Australia’s compliance with the CRPD. However, the Commission wishes to draw the Committee’s attention to three areas of critical importance:
- the need to introduce a legal framework that recognises the equal legal capacity of people with disability and enables and facilitates the creation and implementation of various supports for the exercise of legal capacity (see section 4.7; Recommendation 26)
- the need to accelerate action to ensure people with disability are not unlawfully or arbitrarily deprived of their liberty on the basis of disability, including in the criminal justice system (see section 4.9; Recommendations 29 to 31)
- the need to prohibit the practice of sterilisation of children with disability, and adults with disability without their free, prior and informed consent (see section 4.12; Recommendations 36 to 38).
- The Commission recommends that the Committee request an update from the Australian Government on progress in the three priority areas in 12 months, under article 36 of the CRPD and Sections G and H of the working methods of the Committee.
 This submission is based on work that has been undertaken by the Commission in accordance with its mandate and functions, or otherwise on publicly available information. The Commission has brought the issues raised in this submission to the attention of the Australian Government. This submission provides information concerning disability discrimination experienced by key population groups in Australia and other thematic issues relating to disability discrimination. In relation to each section the Commission has referred to the relevant articles of CRPD engaged, the relevant paragraph of the Committee’s concluding observations on Australia’s first report (CO) and the Committee’s list of issues (LOI) and questions in relation to the second and third periodic report of Australia.
The Commission notes that the LOI did not include issues pertaining to Articles 10, 20 and 23. The Commission supports consideration of these matters by the Committee during the interactive dialogue.
The Commission is concerned that people with disability in Australia do not enjoy their right to life on an equal basis with others (article 10). For example, people with intellectual disability experience over twice the rate of avoidable deaths (see paragraph 101).
The Commission also considers that further measures are needed to ensure personal mobility with the greatest possible independence for all people with disability (article 20). This includes measures in respect of the NDIS (see paragraphs 24-28) and ensuring accessible environments (see paragraphs 48-54).
Finally, the Commission is concerned that parents with disability, particularly those with intellectual disability, experience significant discrimination (article 23), including having a child removed from their care at disproportionately higher rates. Australian Institute of Family Studies, ‘Parental Intellectual Disability and Child Protection: Key Issues’ (December 2009) <https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/parental-intellectual-disability-and-child-protection-key-i>.