Disability Rights

What is the CRPD?

Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (or the CRPD) in 2008. The CRPD reflects the view that disability is an ordinary and accepted part of human diversity and recognises that socially constructed barriers prevent people with disabilities from fully enjoying their human rights. The articles of the CRPD apply those rights recognised in general human rights treaties to the context faced by people with disabilities. They provide for special measures or supports to enable all people with disabilities to access and exercise those rights. Though progress has been made since ratification, Australia remains a long way from fully implementing the CRPD standards and framework.

What is the National Disability Strategy?

The National Disability Strategy is an agreement between all Australian governments (Federal, State and Territory) aimed at implementing Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD, see above). The Strategy is also informed by findings from the 2008-2009 consultation Report (Shut Out) that identified that many people with disabilities have been deprived equal access to those things that Australians without disabilities take for granted (such as housing, employment, education, healthcare), and meaningful participation and inclusion in the life of the community. The Strategy expresses a vision for “an inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.”

In 2011, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020. The Strategy adopts the principles of Article 3  of the CRPD and provides a framework for Australia to address its CRPD obligations, particularly in establishing a coordination mechanism (as recommended in Article 33) to facilitate implementation of of disability rights principles in different sectors and at different levels.

You can read the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 in full, or this summary lists the following Policy Directions plus the “Areas for future action” under the six outcome areas.

Outcome Area 1 – Inclusive and accessible communities

Outcome: People with disability live in accessible and well designed communities with opportunity for full inclusion in social, economic, sporting and cultural life.

Policy Directions:

  • Increased participation of people with disability, their families and carers in the social, cultural, recreational and sporting life of the community.
  • Improved accessibility of the built and natural environment through planning and regulatory systems, maximising the participation and inclusion of every member of the community.
  • Improved provision of accessible and well designed housing with choice for people with disability about where they live.
  • A public, private and community transport system that is accessible for the whole community.
  • Communication and information systems to be accessible, reliable and responsive to the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.

Outcome area 2 – Rights protection, justice and legislation

Outcome: People with disability have their rights promoted, upheld and protected.

Policy Directions:

  • Increased awareness and acceptance of the rights of people with disability.
  • Remove societal barriers preventing people with disability participating as equal citizens.
  • People with disability to have access to justice.
  • People with disability to be safe from violence, exploitation and neglect.
  • More effective responses from the criminal justice system to people with disability who have complex needs and heightened vulnerabilities.

Outcome area 3 – Economic Security

Outcome: People with disability, their families and carers have economic security, enabling them to plan for the future and exercise choice and control over their lives.

Policy Directions:

  • Increased access to employment opportunities as a key to improve economic security and personal wellbeing for people with disability, their families and carers.
  • Income support and tax systems to provide an adequate standard of living for people with disability, their families and carers, while fostering personal financial independence and employment.
  • Improved access to housing options that are affordable and provide security of tenure.

Outcome area 4 – Personal and community support

Outcome: People with disability, their families and carers have access to a range of supports to assist them to live independently and actively engage in their communities.

  • A sustainable disability support system which is person-centred and self-directed, and which maximises opportunities for independence and participation in the economic, social and cultural life of the community.
  • The disability support system to be responsive to the particular needs and circumstances of people with complex and high needs for support.
  • Universal personal and community support services are made available to meet the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.
  • The role of families and carers to be acknowledged and supported.

Outcome area 5 – Learning and skills

Outcome: People with disability achieve their full potential through their participation in an inclusive high quality education system that is responsive to their needs. People with disability have opportunities to continue learning throughout their lives.

  • Strengthen the capacity of all education providers to deliver inclusive, high quality educational programs for people with all abilities from early childhood to adulthood.
  • Focus on reducing the disparity in educational outcomes for people with disability and others.
  • Ensure that Government reforms and initiatives for early childhood, education, training and skill development are responsive to the needs of people with disability.
  • Improve pathways for students with disability from school to further education, employment and life-long learning.

Outcome area 6 – Health and wellbeing

Outcome: People with disability attain highest possible health and wellbeing outcomes throughout their lives.

  • All health service providers (including hospitals, general practices, specialist services, allied health, dental health, mental health and population health programs and ambulance services) have the capability to meet the needs of people with disability.
  • Timely, comprehensive and effective prevention and early intervention health services for people with disability.
  • Universal health reforms and initiatives to address the needs of people with disability, their families and carers.
  • Factors fundamental to wellbeing and health status such as choice and control, social participation and relationships, to be supported in government policy and program design.