The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs works with international organisations, including the United Nations, on policy development and research for international disabilities issues.
- United Nations - Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific - Biwako Millennium Framework for Action
United Nations – Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention) took more than two decades to reach fruition after the first call for development. Australia was heavily involved in the negotiation process.
Although the Convention does not create new rights, it specifically prohibits discrimination against people with disability in all areas of life.
On 30 March 2007, Australia signed the Convention as one of the original signatories. On 17 July 2008, Australia ratified the Convention in New York and it entered into force for Australia on 16 August 2008.
This means that Australia was able to participate in the inaugural election of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in New York on 3 November 2008. This Committee, which initially will have 12 members, will oversee the implementation of the Convention.
Australia nominated Professor Ron McCallum AO as its candidate for the election of the Committee. Professor McCallum was elected for a two year term on the Committee in the first round of voting.
Professor McCallum is a Professor of Industrial Law at the University of Sydney and has extensive experience in organisations that provide services for people with disability. Professor McCallum has also been appointed as Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities for 2010.
On 30 July 2009 the Government took the decision to accede to the Optional Protocol. The Optional Protocol was lodged on 21 August 2009 and came into force for Australia on 20 September 2009. The Optional Protocol allows individuals and groups of individuals of countries which have ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol to petition alleged violations of their rights to an independent international body, once all national procedures have been exhausted.
On 15 September 2009 the Government agreed that in accordance to article 33(1) of the Convention, FaHCSIA and Attorney-General’s Department be designated joint focal points for implementing the Convention.
FaHCSIA will provide guidance on disability related policy and programs, particularly with the development of the National Disability Strategy (NDS). The NDS will be a critical vehicle for implementation of the Convention and will ensure that the principles underpinning the Convention are incorporated into policies and programs affecting people with disability, their families and carers.
Australia’s first report to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on measures taken to give effect to our obligations under the Convention is due in August 2010 and every four years thereafter.
For further information on the Convention, please visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific - Biwako Millennium Framework for Action
In May 2002, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) met in Japan and adopted the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action.
The framework outlines issues, action plans and strategies towards an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for people with disabilities in the Asian and Pacific region over the Decade of 2003 to 2012 .
It identifies seven priority areas for action:
- persons with disabilities, family organisations
- women with disabilities
- early detection, early intervention and education
- poverty alleviation through capacity-building, social security and sustainable livelihood programs
- training and employment including self-employment
- access to built environments and public transport, and
- access to information and communications, including information, communications and assistive technologies.
In all, 21 targets and 17 strategies supporting the achievement of all the targets have been identified.
At the High-level Intergovernmental Meeting held in Bangkok in September 2007, it was agreed to adopt the Biwako Plus Five. It supplements the Biwako Millennium Framework for Action in the hope of making a significant contribution to the implementation of the Framework over the remaining five years of the decade (2008-2012). The Biwako Plus Five provides additional actions in the seven priority areas as well as an increase of 25 additional strategies.
UNESCAP meets biennially to review achievements and to identify actions that may be required to implement the Framework. At these meetings non-government and self-help organisations, government ministries and agencies and the media are invited to present reports reviewing progress in the Framework's implementation