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Raising the standard on disability rights.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON ROBERT McCLELLAND MP PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR DISABILITIES THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP

NEWS RELEASE

3 December 2008 128/2008

RAISING THE STANDARD ON DISABILITY RIGHTS

The Rudd Government has today marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by taking important action to enhance human rights protections for people with disabilities.

The Government took another step to ensure Australia remains an international leader on this issue, by tabling a National Interest Analysis proposing that Australia become a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“Acceding to the Protocol is a further indication to the international community that Australia is back in business on human rights,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.

“We cannot expect our neighbours to meet higher standards if we are not prepared to accept them ourselves.”

Under the Optional Protocol, a person who considers that Australia has not complied with the Convention and has exhausted all domestic remedies will be able to lodge a complaint with a specialised UN Committee.

“Today’s important step toward becoming a party to this Optional Protocol demonstrates our commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with a disability, both at home and abroad” Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities, Bill Shorten said.

The National Interest Analysis will now be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

Another important initiative was also taken today to improve the rights of persons with disabilities at home, with the Government introducing the Disability Discrimination Act and Other Human Rights Amendments Bill.

“These long overdue amendments will enhance human rights protections for people with disabilities by improving the operation of Australia’s federal anti-discrimination system,” Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.

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“Today is an important day because it focuses attention on the challenges that people with disability face on a daily basis,” Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services Bill Shorten said.

The Bill will implement key recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in 2004. The amendments will clarify and modernise aspects of the Act, including making it clear that there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments for people with a disability. Regrettably, the recommendations languished under the former Government.

Both these initiatives are part of the Rudd Government’s long term plan to be a regional and international leader for people with disabilities and their families.

Media Contacts: Adam Sims (Mr McClelland’s Office) 0419 480 224 Alison Currie (Mr Shorten’s Office) 0413 776 644