Department of Social Services
- The Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) welcomes the opportunity to provide the Department of Social Services (DSS) with this submission in response to the National Disability Strategy: Position Paper[i] (the Position Paper) regarding the development of a new National Disability Strategy (the New Strategy).
- The Commission is Australia’s national human rights institution, with recognised independent status and roles in United Nations human rights fora. The Commission’s purpose is to provide independent and impartial services to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Commission undertakes a range of policy development and research tasks that aim to promote compliance with Australia’s human rights obligations, while also investigating and conciliating complaints of unlawful discrimination and breaches of human rights.
- The Commission was pleased to be able to support the consultation process for the Position Paper by co-hosting the National Disability Strategy – Beyond 2020 webinar with the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health on 24 September 2020. A record of the event is available online.[ii] This submission builds upon the feedback received in the webinar and addresses all of the questions in the Position Paper. The Commission’s expectation is that there will be additional opportunity to comment on the proposed New Strategy and outcomes framework before the New Strategy is finalised.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges in Australia for people with disability, their families and friends, carers, and formal and informal supports. In particular, this includes older Australians with disability in aged care and younger Australians with disability in education. Community understanding of, and respect for, the rights of people with disability has never been more important.
- The Commission’s expertise in upholding the rights of people with disability means it has a critical role to play in implementing, monitoring and reporting upon the New Strategy.
2. Summary of recommendations
- Recommendation 1: That a rights-based approach is embedded in the New Strategy’s vision to align it with the CRPD, with the vision to read: ‘An inclusive Australian society that recognises the right of people with disability to be treated with dignity and respect, and enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal members of the community.’
- Recommendation 2: To strengthen the New Strategy’s focus on human rights, the outcome areas be expanded to include:
- Accessible technology.
- Recommendation 3: That in the New Strategy the reference to ‘economic security’ as an outcome area be expanded to refer to ‘economic security, meaningful employment and entrepreneurship.’
- Recommendation 4: That the New Strategy incorporates one set of clear and cohesive Guiding Principles which prioritise:
- respect for inherent dignity and autonomy, consistent with the vision
- consultation (‘involve and engage’)
- accessibility – taking into account the concepts of universal design with the opportunity for customisation
- Recommendation 5: That the New Strategy provides for a national survey at regular intervals on community attitudes towards people with disability. The results of the survey would be publicly reported.
- Recommendation 6: That the New Strategy provides for a national awareness raising campaign modelled on Article 8(2)(a) of the CRPD as recommended by the CRPD Committee. Provision should also be made for the evaluation of any campaign.
- Recommendation 7: That the New Strategy provide for the development of teaching resources on disability awareness for use in schools.
- Recommendation 8: That the New Strategy provides for engagement with television, streaming and cinema content producers to develop voluntary targets for the proportion of on-screen participants with lived experience of disability.
- Recommendation 9: That the New Strategy incorporate a fully funded National Disability Data Asset to support governments of all levels to measure and report on outcomes.
- Recommendation 10: That the New Strategy clearly state that the roles and responsibilities of governments outlined in the CRPD extend to all levels of government (Commonwealth, state, territory and local government). The New Strategy should also consider how these roles and responsibilities are implemented at each level of government (for example, through disability awareness training, the development of codes of conduct or other measures).
- Recommendation 11: That the New Strategy clearly outline which level of government and which government department or authority is responsible for different aspects of service delivery for people with disability.
- Recommendation 12: That the New Strategy expressly outlines the important role the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability.
- Recommendation 13: That the New Strategy expressly references the role of disability advocates, business and the technology sector in improving outcomes for people with disability. The New Strategy should specifically capture the role of businesses as an important source of data regarding disability employment.
- Recommendation 14: That the Commission is resourced and empowered to report on the progress of the New Strategy and Australia’s obligations under the CRPD on a biennial basis.
- Recommendation 15: That Targeted Action Plans are developed to support the implementation of the New Strategy. The deliverables identified in the Targeted Action Plans should be linked to the outcomes framework, and monitoring and reporting on the progress of the New Strategy.
- Recommendation 16: That the New Strategy incorporates a permanent consultation mechanism that is comprised of and led by people with disability, and appropriately resourced.
[i] Australian Government, Department of Social Services, National Disability Strategy (Position Paper, July 2020) <https://engage.dss.gov.au/nds-stage2-consultation/national-disability-strategy-position-paper/>.