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The Rights of Persons with Disabilities

UNITED NATIONS SIXTH CONFERENCE OF STATES PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

Statement by Mr Evan Lewis, Group Manager, Disability and Carers, Australian Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

17 July 2013

 

It is an honour to represent Australia at the sixth session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

As we prepare to present Australia’s national report to the tenth session of the CRPD Committee in September, I would like to thank Australia’s Professor Ron McCallum for his leadership during his tenure as CRPD Committee Chair, and congratulate Ms Maria Soledad Cisternas Reyes on her recent appointment to this role.

Since the last Conference of States Parties, Australia has been progressing a strong domestic reform agenda across our disability services and support systems.

Our National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 brings together disability reforms that are fundamentally changing public policy, programs and services to ensure that Australians with disabilities can be active participants in their communities.

The Strategy ensures that the principles underpinning the CRPD are mainstreamed into all domestic policies, services and programs that impact upon persons with disabilities, their families and carers. The Strategy identifies factors such as accessibility, economic security, and health and well-being as critical for an inclusive society.

In July 2013, we launched DisabilityCare Australia, our new national disability insurance scheme that gives Australians with permanent and significant disabilities the choice and control over the services and support they need.

DisabilityCare recognises that everyone’s needs, preferences, and aspirations are different. By tailoring support to the individual, DisabilityCare provides the right information and referrals, support to access community services and activities, and personal plans and support over a lifetime.

At the international level, Australia remains an active and committed player in working with our Member State colleagues and the UN family in the evolution of a disability-inclusive post-2015 development agenda.

Australia has, through our aid program, established fruitful partnerships with organisations such as the Pacific Disability Forum, the Disability Rights Fund, and the Women’s Refugee Commission.  Their cooperation and experience helps us hear more clearly the voices of the men, women, and children with disabilities in the most marginalised communities of the world, and this is already having an impact on our disability-inclusive approaches to disaster risk reduction, humanitarian response, and inclusive education.

Australia remains a strong supporter of the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Through our involvement in resolution negotiations, UN agency strategic planning exercises, and other activities, we seek to encourage the United Nations system to consider disability, and particularly persons with disabilities, in all aspects of its development work.

As States Parties to the CRPD, we all recognise the moral imperative of ensuring that persons with disabilities are empowered to be both agents and beneficiaries of development in 2015 and beyond.  Australia looks forward to exploring these challenges with you all during this year’s Conference of States Parties.

Thank you.

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