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Making E-commerce accessible.

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SENATOR THE HON IAN CAMPBELL Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Media Release

Making E-Commerce Accessible Senator Ian Campbell, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications Information Technology and the Arts, today welcomed the release of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Accessibility of Electronic Commerce and New Service and Information Technologies for Older Australians and People with a Disability .

The report discusses the benefits that new technologies can provide to people with special needs, while highlighting the particular problems faced by older Australians and people with disabilities in accessing new technologies.

'The information economy provides an unparalleled opportunity for all Australians to access Government and business services-particularly for those who may have difficulty using more traditional means,' Senator Campbell said.

'To make sure that people with disabilities can make the most of the online environment, the Commonwealth Government has been leading the way through programs such as AccessAbility, which commenced in 1998.'

AccessAbility is a $3 million program that supports innovative projects to help people with disabilities gain improved access to online information communications services. This program offers funding for research, training and equipment in a variety of projects across Australia.

The report supports the initiatives taken and improvements made by the Commonwealth Government to address accessibility problems for older Australians and people with a disability. For example, the report welcomes the

passage of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 which allows Australians to use the Internet to provide a range of Commonwealth departments and agencies with electronic documents which are as legally sound as traditional paperwork. The report also welcomes recent and pending reforms to copyright law that will improve accessibility to electronic information. The Commission also recognises that a number of Commonwealth agencies have made significant progress in improving accessibility to their web sites in the past few months.

'The report also makes it clear that we need to offer online services, in addition to over the counter and telephone services, not as a replacement for them,' Senator Campbell said.

'The Government is firmly committed to giving Australians a choice so that everyone can use the facilities that most suit their needs. Australia is at the forefront of providing online services-we need to make sure that people with disabilities and older Australians are in a position to reap the benefits of this new and exciting environment.'

Media contact: Georgia-Kate Schubert: Senator Campbell's office,02 6277 3955 Website:

9 June 2000

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