Rights of people with disability routinely ignored: new report

Australia is failing many people with disability, says a new comprehensive report released today.

“People with disability across Australia have told the United Nations, in a new report, about the widespread hardship, discrimination, violence and poverty they face every day,” said Ms Carolyn Frohmader, Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia, and member of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia.

“Australia is breaching our human rights commitments to people with disability, including in the areas of violence, restrictive practices and forced sterilisation, education and the over-representation of people with disability in the criminal justice system.”

The report, entitled Disability Rights Now 2019: Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been prepared by a coalition made up of Disabled People’s Organisations, disability representative and advocacy organisations from around Australia. The report reviews Australia’s progress in implementing the CRPD, and has been endorsed by over 80 organisations from around the country. The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will be reviewing Australia’s progress in September in Geneva. This happens every four years and is the second review since Australia ratified the CRPD in 2008.

“We have consulted widely with people with disability across the country, and with many organisations, to compile this comprehensive report,” said Mr Damian Griffis, Chief Executive Officer of First People’s Disability Network, and member of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia.

“The report shows that Indigenous people with disability routinely have their rights ignored, particularly in the criminal justice system. Indigenous people with disability are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned than the rest of the population. 50% of the total prison population report a history of psychosocial disability, almost one-third report disability, and 25%–30% of prisoners have intellectual disability.”

“As part of the national consultation, nearly 900 people with disability from every state and territory filled out a survey – the results showed how far we still have to go in making sure we have the same rights as everyone else,” said Ms Frohmader.

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was raised as a major concern by survey respondents. People with disability emphasised how hard it is to access the NDIS, how difficult the NDIS is to use, and about long waits for advocacy to help with the process,” said Mr Griffis.

“In addition, a majority of people with disability (61%) reported not being able to afford, or get access to the disability support they need. Many people with disability die decades younger than their non-disabled peers.”

Disability Rights Now 2019 shows how far we have to go before people with disability have the same freedoms and rights as non-disabled people in Australia,” said Ms Frohmader.

“We know Australia has made significant progress over the last five years, with the implementation of the NDIS, and with the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability, but many of the issues that we reported on before are still the same in 2019, and that has to change.”

“A delegation of people with disability will be going to Geneva in September to present this report to the CRPD Committee, and discuss our findings with them,” said Mr Griffis. “We thank the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services for their support for our delegation.”
The civil society CRPD Shadow Report Working Group includes:
• Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia)
• Council for Intellectual Disability NSW (CID)
• Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI)
• Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI)
• Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA)
• Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL)
• Queensland Voice for Mental Health (QVMH)
• Children and Young People with Disability Australia (CYDA)
• Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO)

We acknowledge and thank the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department for financial support in the production of this report, and PwC Australia for their support in collation of the survey results.

You can download the Shadow Report here:

Disability Rights Now 2019 – Original (PDF)
Disability Rights Now 2019 – Original (Word Document)

Disability Rights Now 2019 – Plain English (PDF)
Disability Rights Now 2019 – Plain English (Word Document)

Disability Rights Now 2019 – French (PDF)
Disability Rights Now 2019 – French (Word Document)

Disability Rights Now 2019 – Spanish (PDF)
Disability Rights Now 2019 – Spanish (Word Document)
Thanks to the Deaf Society for this Auslan translation of the Shadow Report’s Executive Summary.

For more information, contact:
El Gibbs
Director, Media and Communications, People with Disability Australia
0408 682 867