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Thursday, 16 August 2012
Page: 5703

Disability Reform

(Question No. 1896)


Senator Cash asked the Minister representing the Minister for Disability Reform, upon notice, on 25 June 2012:

(1) What action has the Government taken and what is the Government currently doing to address its commitment to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, especially regarding women with disabilities.

(2) Is data from the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline currently disaggregated by gender; if not, why not.

(3) Will the Government consider disaggregating data by gender to enable a better understanding and analysis of the figures on violence against disabled women; if so, when will this occur; if not, why not.

(4) What progress has been made on the high-priority action of developing a national response to auditing crisis accommodation services for accessibility for women with disabilities, one of the 20 high-priority actions identified by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children in the report Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009-2021.

(5) What progress has been made in regard to the initiatives listed in the fact sheet ‘Women with disability and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’, found at http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/women/pubs/violence/np_time_for_action/info_sheets/Documents/info_sheet_disability.pdf.


Senator Chris Evans: The Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and the Minister for Disability Reform provides the following answer to the honourable Senator’s question:

(1) On 17 July 2008, Australia became one of the first western nations to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention). The Australian Government is committed to fulfilling Australia’s obligations under the Convention including through initiatives which ensure that all people with disability, including women and girls, enjoy the same human rights enjoyed by other Australians.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability in a number of areas of public life including employment, education, the provision of goods, services and facilities, access to premises and the implementation of Australian Government laws and programs. There is also additional legislation in each state and territory which makes discrimination on the basis of disability unlawful.

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (the Strategy) was formally endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments on 13 February 2011 and launched by the Australian Government on 18 March 2011. The Strategy outlines a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation, and create a more inclusive Australian society that enables people with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens. The Strategy represents an important element of the Australian Government’s commitment to promoting social inclusion for all Australians, including women with disability.

The Australian Government and State and Territory Governments are working to fundamentally reform disability care and support through the implementation of a National Disability Insurance Scheme (the Scheme). The Scheme will provide eligible individuals with the care and support they need when they need it, give individuals decision making power including being able to choose their service provider, provide high quality evidence-based services which manage life-time costs of care, be simple to navigate and link to mainstream and community services, recognise the essential care and support of families and carers and support them in that role, facilitate each individual’s community participation, access to education and employment opportunities, and be managed on an insurance basis.

The Australian Government provides funds to Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA), which is the peak non-government organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. WWDA is run by women with disability, for women with disability, and represents more than two million disabled women in Australia. WWDA’s work is grounded in a rights based framework which links gender and disability issues to a full range of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Promoting the rights of women with disability to freedom from violence, exploitation and abuse and to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are key policy priorities of WWDA. The Australian Government also funds six National Women’s Alliances, which work collaboratively to provide informed and representative advice to government on policy development and implementation relevant to the diverse views and circumstances of women.

The Australian Government recognises the very important role played by carers and that over two-thirds of Australia’s primary carers are women. The Australian Government is working hard to ensure that carers have the same opportunities as other Australians to participate fully in work, family and community life. Australia’s first National Carer Strategy (NCS) was launched on 3 August 2011 and is the Australian Government’s long term commitment to carers. The NCS will ensure that carers are valued and respected by society and that they have rights, choices, opportunities and capabilities to participate in economic, social and community life. It will achieve this by responding to the diverse and changing needs of carers with services and supports that are coordinated, flexible, appropriate, affordable, inclusive and sustainable. The NCS will guide future reforms, and it builds on reforms the Australian Government is already delivering to better support carers.

(2) The data from the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline is disaggregated by gender.

(3) Based on the answer to question (2) above, this question is not applicable.

(4) As part of the National Disability Strategy, the Disability (Access to Premises -Building) Standards 2010 commenced on 1 May 2011.

The Premises Standards clarify the general non-discrimination provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in relation to the design, construction and management of buildings. The Premises Standards set performance requirements and technical specifications for non-discriminatory access, and provide a practical and ongoing means to improve building access. This is achieved by requiring that all new buildings, together with modifications of existing buildings that require a building approval, meet the Premises Standards.

(5) Improving Service Delivery for Women with Disabilities reform project has commenced, Lifeline DV-Alert training is being provided to health and allied health workers, 1800RESPECT has been implemented with accessibility to services and information, opportunities have been taken to raise community awareness, The Line has been implemented and Community Action Grants have been announced and commenced.