25 Years of the Disability Discrimination Act
This week on 1 March the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) celebrated its 25th anniversary.
It was Australia’s first piece of legislation to protect the rights of people with disability. A quarter of a century on, the DDA has been used by thousands to fight discrimination in areas including employment, education and access to goods and services. Disability discrimination related complaints account for around 40% of the total received by the Australian Human Right’s Commission. That’s about the amount of complaints received for both gender and racial discrimination combined.
The Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin says “Over the past 25 years, the Act has been instrumental in social change, and has been used by individuals to fight against discriminatory practices in many fields, including education, access to transport, goods, services facilities, and more.“
Although we've come a long way, and there have been momentous achievements by people with disability over the last 25 years, there is still so much work to be done. Alastair McEwin says, “Most of the disability discrimination complaints that we receive relate to employment, and the barriers that people face in accessing goods, services and facilities – these types of complaints have vied for top place among DDA complaints for the past five years.” This is clear when it comes to statistics around accessibility, inclusion, education and equal opportunity in Australia:
- Only approximately 50% of Sydney train stations are fully accessible
- 53% of people with a disability aged 15-64 yrs are currently employed, compared with 83% of people without a disability
- 36% of people with a disability aged 18-64yrs have completed Year 12, compared with 60% of those without a disability
- 45% of those with a disability in Australia are living either near or below the poverty line
Scarlett Finney was just five years old when she faced discrimination. The Hills Grammar School in Sydney said they couldn’t accept her as a student, because they couldn’t accommodate her wheelchair. Scarlett, who has Spina Bifida, used the DDA and took the matter to the Commission. The matter ended up in the Federal Court and these days, Hills Grammar is a pioneer in inclusive education. You can watch a video on Scarlett’s story and others who have used the DDA to improve their lives:
If you want to learn more about Council’s work towards full access and inclusion you can find out here:
Gabby, Glenn and Julia
The Men's Shed at Haberfield volunteer their skills to make a Sensory Room for a local family with a child on the Autism Spectrum please read more here (DOCX 8.4MB) Council makes inclusion its cornerstone
Tuesday 30 May, 2017
Inner West Council’s new inclusion action plan will remove barriers to access and participation for people with disability.
Council administrator Richard Pearson said the plan targets specific areas where local government can make a difference, including access to infrastructure, cultural development and information as well as having real input into key Council processes.
“A key new initiative in the plan is for Council to aim for a workforce that mirrors the demographics of the Inner West community in relation to including people with a disability,” he said.
“We need to send an important message: that for a society to be healthy and functioning, everyone needs to be included and that should be reflected in the make-up of the Council workforce itself.”
The Plan was developed in consultation with people with a disability and family members, as well as with Council’s Strategic Reference Groups and other agencies and service providers.
Mr Pearson said the plan was about Council taking a leadership role.
“We want to work alongside people with a disability, their organisations and other community partners to achieve better outcomes and opportunities for people in our community,” he said.
“It also demonstrates that inclusion is a key part of the way we run Council and plan for the future.”
Social Inclusion Strategic Reference Group member Gisele Mesnage also embraced the plan.
“As a resident with a disability, I am proud that the Inner West Council has adopted this inclusion action plan,” she said.
“The plan identifies key local, state, federal and global topics, with plenty of scope to develop priority policies, programs and actions that target the needs of the inner west community.
“As the founder of the Digital Gap Initiative, I am pleased to note that digital access issues have been encompassed in the inclusion action plan.”
Mr Pearson said a cornerstone of the plan is also to uphold and promote the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“Council’s application of the convention is about making human rights real for everyone, every day,” he said.
“And in doing that, we are committed to making sure that people living with a disability have access to the full range of services and activities available to our community.
“Inclusive communities reduce isolation and disadvantage for people with a disability while increasing diversity of opportunity to truly include everyone in the community.
“Our inclusion plan is a big step forward for all our residents.”