May 2007


Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities in Australia. It is a not-for-profit organisation constituted and driven by women with disabilities. Please find below a brief Update Report from WWDA for the months of April and May 2007. If you have any questions, or would like more information on anything in this report, please email Carolyn or Angela at:wwda@wwda.org.au


Contents

Sterilisation of Children with Intellectual Disabilities – Update

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Update

Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission UN Convention Workshop

Advancing through Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Project – Update

Disabled People’s International (DPI) Launches Convention Implementation Toolkit

WWDA Submission to the South Australian Domestic Violence Law Reforms

National One Stop Shop for Accessible Tourism in Australia

Tourism Accommodation Requirements and Information Needs of People with Mobility Disabilities – Research Study

Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002

WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

New Publication: Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2007

New Books

New on the WWDA Website

Publications from the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues

Join WWDA

Poems from WWDA Members

Appendix One: Copy of Letter Received from SCAG Working Group

Appendix Two: Copy of Letters Received from Australian Government re the UN Convention


1. Sterilisation of Children with Intellectual Disabilities – Update

In previous Bulletins, WWDA has reported on its systemic advocacy work in relation to the Federal, State & Territory Government’s proposal to develop draft national, uniform legislation which sets out the procedures that jurisdictions could adopt in authorising the sterilisation of children who have an intellectual disability. WWDA’s recent work in this area has focused on the draft Bill (Children with Intellectual Disabilities (Regulation of Sterilisation) Bill 2006), released for consultation with selected stakeholders by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG), in November 2006. WWDA’s systemic advocacy work in this area can be found on our website at: http://www.wwda.org.au/steriladv07.htm

The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) met on 12 and 13 April 2007, where the draft (Children with Intellectual Disabilities (Regulation of Sterilisation) Bill 2006) and the outcomes of the consultations, were discussed. Following the SCAG meeting, WWDA wrote to the Federal and State/Territory Attorneys-General to request information on the outcomes of the consultations and any decisions made regarding the draft Bill. WWDA has received responses from the State/Territory Attorneys General, which are all the same as the response we recently received from the SCAG Working Group (a copy of which is provided in Appendix 1 of this Update Report).

WWDA has contacted the SCAG Working Group to request a copy of the findings and outcomes of the consultation process, however we have been advised verbally that these are ‘confidential’ to the Working Group.

WWDA will continue to work on this important issue and members will be kept updated of our progress.


2. UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Update

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol was adopted on 13 December 2006 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and was opened for signature on 30 March 2007. The Convention is intended as a human rights instrument with an explicit, social development dimension. It adopts a broad categorisation of persons with disabilities and reaffirms that all persons with all types of disabilities must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. It clarifies and qualifies how all categories of rights apply to persons with disabilities and identifies areas where adaptations have to be made for persons with disabilities to effectively exercise their rights and areas where their rights have been violated, and where protection of rights must be reinforced.

On 30 March 2007, there were 82 signatories to the Convention, 44 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and one ratification (Jamaica) of the Convention, representing the highest number of signatories in history to a UN Convention on its opening day. It is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century and is the first human rights convention to be open for signature by regional integration organisations. As of the 23 May, there were 95 signatories to the Convention, 51 signatories to the Optional Protocol, and one ratification of the Convention.

Following the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPWD) on 13 December 2006, WWDA wrote to the Prime Minister, John Howard, urging the Australian Government to show its leadership and commitment to Human Rights by being one of the early signatory nations to the UN Convention on the Rights and Dignities of Persons with Disabilities (a copy of the Australian Government’s correspondence to WWDA on this matter is attached in Appendix 2).

WWDA congratulates the Australian Government on becoming a signatory to the Convention on March 30, 2007. WWDA is hopeful that the Australian Government will also sign the Conventions Optional Protocol. Amongst the current signatories to the Optional Protocol are: Belgium, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Croatia, Finland, Italy, South Africa, and Germany. The Optional Protocol allows the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to receive and consider communications from or on behalf of individuals or groups of individuals subject to its jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by that State Party of the provisions of the Convention.

A full listing of current signatories to both the Convention and its Optional Protocol can be found at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/

The procedures which a country undertakes to sign and ratify any UN Convention are complex. Similarly the content of any convention may not be well known or understood. To this end HREOC is convening a series of forums to give people with disabilities and other interested parties information about this specific convention (see Item 3, below). For example, signing the Convention does not bind a country to enact any of its clauses although: – ‘it is a means of authentication and expresses the willingness of the signatory state to continue the treaty-making process’ (UN 1999). Ratification, on the other hand, is where a country officially decides that it wants to become a State Party to a convention. This is the ‘essential step needed to make a country a States Party and legally bind it to comply with the provisions of the convention’ (DPI 2006). WWDA congratulates Jamaica for taking this leading role in being the first country to ratify the convention, and looks forward to the Australian Government undertaking the ratification process.


3. Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission UN Convention Workshop

The Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) is holding a two day workshop on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The workshop will take place on 27 & 28 June 2007 in Sydney, and will be opened by the Attorney General and will run from 9:30 am to 5 pm on both days. The workshop will be aimed at representatives from a number of disability advocacy organisations, and is intended to:

  • provide an opportunity for representatives from disability community organisations to gain a better understanding of the development and content of the Convention;
  • facilitate the establishment of a network of disability community representatives able to contribute to the pre-ratification and implementation phases;
  • identify domestic and international resources and initiatives that would assist in the pre-ratification and implementation phases; and,
  • build the capacity of representative organisations to assist the broader disability community sector to understand the content and value of the Convention.

WWDA President, Annie Parkinson, will be attending the Workshop on behalf of WWDA. Future WWDA Update Bulletins will report back to members on the outcome of the Workshop and will also continue to keep members updated on the Convention ratification processes.


5. Advancing through Advocacy for Women with Disabilities Project – Update

The establishment phase of this project is now complete, and the final report approved for distribution. This report gives a comprehensive overview of all project activities. It is now available by contacting the WWDA office at wwda@wwda.org.au. You can request a copy of the Executive Summary (approximately 320 KB in size) or the complete report (approximately 1 MB in size). Notification will be made in a future Update Bulletin when the report is also made available on the WWDA website. Hardcopies of the final report have been distributed to the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues and to the administrators of government registers of representatives in all states and territories. This project was funded by the Australian Government, Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs under the Women’s Leadership and Development Programme of the Office for Women.


5. Disabled People’s International (DPI) Launches Convention Implementation Toolkit

Last year, DPI developed its Convention Ratification Toolkit, available online at http://www.icrpd.net/ratification/en/index.htm. Now that the Convention has opened for signature, DPI has moved into the implementation phase, and has developed a new toolkit – the Convention Implementation Toolkit.

It is DPI’s hope that persons with disabilities and DPI National Assemblies will find within the toolkit the information needed to take part in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Please visit the Implementation Toolkit online at http://www.icrpd.net/implementation/en/index.htm.


6. WWDA Submission to the South Australian Domestic Violence Law Reforms

In November 2005, The Rann Government pledged to reform comprehensively rape, sexual assault and domestic violence laws in South Australia. A review of the South Australian rape and sexual assault laws was undertaken by Liesl Chapman and her report has now been completed. The South Australian Government has now commenced the second stage of the independent review and has asked for a review of the South Australian domestic violence laws so that it can hear a range of views and consider the interests of those affected by these laws.

A Discussion Paper has now been developed for the South Australian Government by Adelaide barrister Ms Maureen Pyke QC. In April this year, WWDA Management Committee member Margie Charlesworth represented WWDA at a forum to review issues raised in the Discussion Paper. In addition, the South Australian Government sought comments on the Discussion Paper (entitled South Australian Domestic Violence Laws Discussion and Options for Reform Paper). A copy of the paper is available from the Sa Department of Justice website at: http://www.justice.sa.gov.au/publications_index.htm.

In early May, WWDA developed a Submission in response to the Discussion Paper South Australian Domestic Violence Laws Discussion and Options for Reform Paper. For the purposes of our submission, WWDA elected to concentrate on addressing two main areas: the ‘Definition of Relationship’; (Chapter 3) and the ‘Definition of Domestic Violence (Chapter 2)’. WWDA believes that these two areas set the scope of the legislation and are of significant importance to women with disabilities in this debate for reform of the South Australian Domestic Violence Laws.

WWDA’s Submission made the following recommendations.

1. The SA Domestic Violence Act should incorporate a definition and description of ‘family’ and/or ‘domestic relationship’ which is sufficiently broad to cover:

  • spousal relationships (past and present);
  • intimate personal relationships (past and present, including dating relationships, same sex relationships, and non-sexual intimate personal relationships);
  • family relationships (with a broad definition of relative which also reflects the extent of kinship and family relationships within indigenous and CALD communities);
  • formal and informal care relationships (between a person and a carer which takes place for fee or reward, or for no fee or reward); and,
  • persons who are ordinarily members of a household.

2. The South Australian Government recognise that women with disabilities have the right to the same protection by domestic/family violence laws against violence in their domestic situations as the rest of the community, and therefore amend and expand the SA Domestic Violence Act to protect women with disabilities from domestic violence as they experience it.

3. Any definition of ‘domestic/family violence’ must be inclusive of the forms of violence as experienced by women with disabilities.

4. The wording of the SA Domestic Violence Act must be specific enough to encompass the circumstances and contexts within which women with disabilities experience domestic/family violence.

A copy of WWDA’s Submission to the ‘South Australian Domestic Violence Laws Discussion and Options for Reform Paper’ will soon be made available on WWDA’s website. If anyone would like a copy of the Submission emailed to them, please contact the WWDA Office via email on: wwda@wwda.org.au.

For more information about the South Australian Government’s Domestic Violence Law Reforms, please contact:

Review of SA Domestic Violence Laws
c/- Justice Strategy, Policy, Planning & Legislation Division
Attorney-General’s Department
GPO Box 464, Adelaide SA 5001
Email: ppld@agd.sa.gov.au


7. National One Stop Shop for Accessible Tourism in Australia

AustraliaForAll.com.au is a new national e-service which allows tourists with disabilities and their families to obtain information about the accessibility of the accommodation and tourist venues which they wish to visit. At the same time it will assist tourist providers within the tourist industry to improve their services and therefore encourage more tourists with disabilities to use them.

The features of this e-service include:

  • One Stop Shop for browsing, choosing (and where possible) booking destinations;
  • A cross-border service giving access to information and accessible tourism throughout Australia;
  • Information that is reliable and can be trusted as it is based on a consensus regarding the criteria levels and standards for accessibility.

AustraliaForAll.com.au will play an important role for travellers with physical, visual and hearing impairments, providing information that has been self assessed and/or professionally verified relating to the accessibility of accommodation and places of entertainment.

Go to: http://australiaforall.com.au

Recent winner of a special commendation under the National Wespac Community Idol 2007 awards scheme. Congratulations Sheila King, Coordinator of AustraliaForAll.com.au.


8. Tourism Accommodation Requirements and Information Needs of People with Mobility Disabilities – Research Study

You are invited to take part in a research study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney on the tourism accommodation needs of people with mobility disabilities. The research aims to identify the room requirements and preferred information format for presenting accessible accommodation so that a person is able to make an informed decision for their needs.

The questionnaire is designed for people with mobility disabilities to answer. However, we welcome carers/attendants, family or friends completing the survey based on the needs of those who require accessible accommodation that they travel with. For example, if you are a parent of a child with a disability you should answer the questionnaire based on the access needs of your child. Your participation in this study is highly valued whether you travel frequently or not. The questionnaire will take about 15 minutes to complete.

You can access the questionnaire at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=63033650891

The research focuses on accessible rooms (sometimes referred to as ‘disabled rooms’) that accommodate people with mobility disabilities as designated under the Building Codes of Australia and the referenced Australian Standards for Access and Mobility (AS1428). This research does not exclude people with hearing, vision or other disabilities from completing the survey. However, other research is currently being conducted on the tourist experiences of people who are blind or vision impaired. In addition, the Hotel Motel Accommodation Association and the Deafness Forum announced in 2005 an industry agreement regarding the provision of accessible facilities for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired. We would welcome people with any disability completing the survey if they regularly use designated accessible rooms.

If you require an alternative format or would like to complete this questionnaire by phone, please contact:
Dr. Simon Darcy
Faculty of Business
University of Technology, Sydney
Ph: 02 9514-5100 Email: simon.darcy@uts.edu.au


9. Review of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002

Section 31 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 provides that the Attorney-General may formulate standards in relation to, relevantly, the provision of public transport services and facilities. The Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (the Transport Standards) were made under section 31, and took effect on 23 October 2002. Part 34 of the Transport Standards requires the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, in consultation with the Attorney-General, to review the efficiency and effectiveness of the Transport Standards. A review is required within five years of the Transport Standards coming into effect and every five years thereafter. The Allen Consulting Group has been engaged to undertake the 2007 review of the Transport Standards.

The objectives of the project are to: review the efficiency and effectiveness of the Transport Standards and:

  • assess whether discrimination has been removed, as far as possible, according to the requirements for compliance set out in Schedule 1 of the Transport Standards;
  • assess the need for any amendments to the Transport Standards; and
  • make recommendations for any necessary amendments to the Transport Standards.

An Issues Paper has been developed and is intended to assist those individuals and organisations who wish to provide a submission to the review. The paper sets out the scope of the review, provides a brief discussion of the key issues for the review, and highlights those areas where the review team is keen to receive feedback from stakeholders. In addition to seeking submissions from stakeholders, the review team will be conducting public hearings in 15 locations nationwide during July and August 2007. These hearings will provide interested individuals and organisations with the opportunity to speak directly with members of the review team. Details of locations and dates of hearings are available at the review website.

The Issues Paper and information about the Review can be accessed via the Review website. Submissions should be provided to the review team no later than 5pm Friday August 24 2007.

For more information and/or to access the Issues Paper, contact:
Allen Consulting Group
Level 12, 210 George St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 02 6204 6500 Fax: 02 9247 2455
Email: dstransport@allenconsult.com.au
Web: http://www.ddatransportreview.com.au


10. WWDA Violence Resource Manual – Update

Much of WWDA’s work over the past few months has concentrated on its national project under the Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault funding program (Australian Government, Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs). WWDA’s project is focusing on the development and production of a Resource Manual on Violence Against Women With Disabilities.

The Manual is made up of a series of four Booklets which are also being provided on an accompanying CD Rom in audio format. WWDA completed the four Booklets to final draft stage prior to December 2006, and is still awaiting final approval from the Office for Women (Commonwealth Department of Family, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs). The Office for Women expressed some concerns about the final booklet Forgotten Sisters which is a global review of literature on violence against women with disabilities. Their concern was about the tone of the review and they also believed that some of the content was critical of the Australian government. WWDA has reworked the booklet in conjunction with the Department and we are now awaiting final approval before moving into the phase of printing and production in alternate format.

WWDA has already received a large number of pre-orders for the Manual. If you would like to register your interest in receiving an Order Form for the Manual, please contact Angela at the WWDA Office via phone (03 6244 8288) or email wwda@wwda.org.au

a picture of the covers of the Violence Manual Booklets.

Covers of the Violence Manual Booklets


11. New Publication: Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls 2007

a picture of the covers of the publication.

Millions of girls are being condemned to a life of inequality and poverty according to a new report from Plan. ‘Because I am a Girl: The State of the World’s Girls’, highlights the appalling situation in which girls find themselves – sometimes through poverty, sometimes because they are young but often simply because of their gender. The report is the first in a series of global reports on girls to be published over the next nine years by Plan. The report presents global statistics highlighting the scale of the problem. For example:

  • 62 million primary school-aged girls are not in education;
  • childhood malnutrition has led to stunted growth in an estimated 450 million women;
  • more young girls aged 15 to 19 years die from unsafe abortions and birth complications than from any other cause;
  • more than 100 million girls, some as young as 12, are expected to marry over the next decade despite international legislation outlawing early marriages.

‘Because I am a Girl’ warns that the Millennium Development Goals, due to be reviewed by the United Nations in two months, are unachievable without a global commitment to enforcing international laws that protect girls’ rights. Included in the report is an eight-point action plan listing straight-forward steps to which every global citizen, organisation and government can contribute to improve girls’ lives. By doing so, we can support a better future, not only for them but for the world as a whole.

The Report can be downloaded (in PDF) from the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) Website. Go to: http://www.crin.org/resources/infoDetail.asp?ID=13351


12. New Books

a picture of the cover of the book Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities.

A Health Handbook for Women With Disabilities
Women with disabilities often discover that the social stigma of disability and inadequate care are greater barriers to health than the disabilities themselves. A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities will help women with disabilities overcome these barriers and improve their general health, self-esteem, and abilities to care for themselves and participate in their communities.

A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities
By Jane Maxwell, Julia Watts Belser, and Darlena David
384 pages, illustrated
English ed. ISBN: 978-0-942364-50-7

The Book can be downloaded for free from: http://www.hesperian.org/publications_download.php#wwd

a picture of the cover of the book Speaking Up: A Plain Text Guide to Advocacy.

Speaking Up: A Plain Text Guide to Advocacy (4-volume set)
Written in Plain Text, the four books in the Speaking Up set were conceived and written specifically to promote self-advocacy to disabled individuals who want to learn how to speak up for themselves. All four books are illustrated throughout with colour drawings and case studies showing the positive results of self-advocacy on the individuals themselves, as well as on their families and carers.

Speaking Up: A Plain Text Guide to Advocacy (4-volume set)
By John Tufail and Kate Lyon
ISBN 978 1 84310 474 2

Further details and ordering information can be found on the JKP website: http://www.jkp.com/new/9781843104742


13. New on the WWDA Website

Over the past few weeks the following documents/information have been added to the WWDA website at www.wwda.org.au

Submission from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) on the Draft Model Bill to regulate the sterilisation of children with an intellectual disability (2006)
Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/sterhreoc06.htm

‘Surviving the Change – Menopause and Women with Disabilities’ (1998)
Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/menop1.htm

Poetry by Women With Disabilities (2007)
Go to: http://www.wwda.org.au/poems.htm


14. Publications from the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues

The Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the Minister for Small Business and Tourism, the Hon Fran Bailey MP, recently launched two new publications Women Entrepreneurs: 18 Inspiring Tales of Small Business Success and Better Conditions, Better Business.

Women Entrepreneurs: 18 Inspiring Tales of Small Business Success is an Australian Government initiative which highlights the individual efforts of 18 women entrepreneurs who have overcome numerous challenges to run successful businesses. Stories range from a snake-catcher and biologist to a shoemaker to the stars of Broadway, a rose-petal grower in Victoria, a renowned international chef and an innovative IT expert.

The Better Conditions, Better Business report details family friendly provisions being offered by 1800 small and medium enterprises in Australia.

Free copies of Women Entrepreneurs and Better Conditions Better Business are available in electronic and hardcopy formats from:
Website: www.ofw.facsia.gov.au/publications
or Ph: 1800 050 009


15. Join WWDA!

The success of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) relies heavily on the participation and goodwill of our members. We are always seeking women with disabilities who would like to represent WWDA at government consultations, workshops, forums and committees, as well as helping us in other ways such as commenting on WWDA documents and reports; presenting papers at Conferences; writing articles for our website, becoming members of our Management Committee and so on. WWDA is a Public Benevolent Institution, which means that donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Here are just some suggestions for how YOU can help Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA):

  • becoming a member;
  • giving a donation (donations over $2 are tax deductible);
  • representing WWDA on Committees, Advisory Boards and so on;
  • participating in consultations and government reviews;
  • writing articles;
  • sending us copies of relevant resources for our library;
  • letting us know about any relevant upcoming activities and/or events, and/or new books, videos, etc;
  • putting us on your newsletter mailing list;
  • using us as a hub for information;
  • using our website;
  • giving us feedback about our work;
  • donating equipment; raising funds for us.

Remember, becoming a financial member of WWDA entitles you to nominate for the Management Committee when vacancies arise and/or vote at annual elections.


16. Poems from WWDA Members

Perfect Dreaming – By Cherie

When I lay sleeping in my bed
I go to far away places in my head
To a time when my body was not always moving
To a beat of it’s own
I look like I’m grooving
But in my dreams I can be anyone I please
And never have I dreamt that I have this disease
I’m usually gorgeous with long flowing hair
And a body so beautiful that makes men stop and stare
But when I’m awake
The truth is not so glamorous
I’m not really any of that and the men not so amorous
I don’t have an hourglass figure
Or long golden locks
And I don’t go to parties in sparkling frock’s
Cause I’m a person with Parkinson’s
And my night times are spent
Usually sitting at home watching T.V
But I’m fairly content
Because I have a wonderful family and beautiful friends
And I try to stay positive as much as I can
And as my dear old Dad said
Beauty comes from within
So if that is the case
An inner beauty contest I surely could win

By Cherie Galbraith Of Perth Western Australia

Saddened Explosion – By Marlene

My heart is saddened, my head explosive
Combined they are a saddened explosion.
My mind explodes,
The tears from my heart extinguish the flames from my mind
What will become of the shell that’s left?
How do I make sense of all that’s left?
The mush that was my brain, will it ever function as it once did?
Or is this combined pulp all that is left?
Is this the only me that will ever exist again?
Tenticles reach out dragging me under.
My legs cannot run fast enough to escape their reach,
My heart cannot pump much needed blood fast enough.
How can I make it produce blood instead of tears?
How do I get answers to my Questions?
My faith is dwindling, my hope is all but gone.

By Marlene Fox


Appendix One: Copy of Letter Received from SCAG Working Group

Ms Parkinson
President
Women With Disabilities Australia
PO Box 605
Rosny Park TAS 7018
17 May 2007

Dear Ms Parkinson

STERILISATION OF INTELLECTUALLY DISABLED MINORS

I refer to your letter dated 18 April 2007 to the Hon Rob Hulls, MP, Attorney-General, enquiring about the outcome of discussions at the recent Standing Committee of Attorneys General (SCAG) meeting in relation to the draft Children with Intellectual Disabilities (Regulation of Sterilisation) Bill 2006 (draft Bill). Minister Hulls thanks you for your letter and has asked me to respond on his behalf.

At its meeting on 12 and 13 April 2007, SCAG noted the views expressed by stakeholders during the SCAG Working Group’s consultation on the draft Bill and agreed to the Working Group doing further work to resolve the issues that stakeholders raised. No decision was made in relation to the draft Bill.

In accordance with SCAG’s recommendation, the Working Group is now working to resolve the issues raised during consultation. The Working Group is aware of WWDA’s views in relation to the draft Bill and notes its submissions to the Working Group during the consultation process.

Please contact Sarah Nieuwenhuysen, Co-ordinator of the Working Group on 03 86840852 if you have any further questions.

Yours sincerely

Chris Humphreys
Director, Civil Law Policy
Department of Justice
Civil Law Policy
GPO Box 4356QC
Melbourne VIC 3001
Ph: 03 96510333


Appendix Two: Copy of Letters Received from Australian Government re the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Dear Ms Parkinson

Thank you for your letter of 19 January 2007, to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, which you also copied to me. The Prime Minister has asked me to respond on his behalf as the issues you raised fall within my portfolio.

In your letter you welcomed the United Nations’ adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (the Convention), and urged the Australian Government to be one of the first countries to sigh the Convention. As you would be aware, Australia was among the first nations to sign the Convention on 30 March 2007, when it was opened for signature in New York. The signing of the Convention reinforces Australia’s long-standing commitment to eliminate, as far as possible, discrimination against people with disability.

The Australian Government will now commence the processes that are required before a decision can be made on ratification of the Convention. The processes include, amongst other things, further consultation with interested parties within Australia. This is consistent with the Australian Government’s approach during the negotiation phase for the Convention in which it consulted widely with stakeholders including disability sector representatives, human rights, legal and business groups and State and Territory governments.

The further consultations will be undertaken in the preparation of a National Interest Analysis (NIA) which examines the foreseeable economic, environmental, social and cultural effects of the Convention; the obligations imposed by the treaty; its direct financial costs to Australia; how the treaty will be implemented domestically; and what consultation has occurred in relation to the treaty. On completion of the NIA, it will be tabled in both Houses of the Australian Parliament along with texts of the Convention.

Following tabling, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) which examines and reports on proposed treaties, received submissions and may hold public hearings. Further information on the standard treaty making process is available at: www.dfat.gov.au/treaties.

Thank you for bringing your views to the Government’s attention. I trust this information will be of assistance to you.

Yours sincerely
Philip Ruddock
Attorney-General
16 May 2007


Dear Ms Parkinson

Thank you for your letter of 13 April 2007 to the Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard MP, about the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Your letter was referred to the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, the Hon Mal Brough MP, as this matter falls within his portfolio responsibility. The Minister has asked me to respond on his behalf.

The Minister welcomes your support for Australia’s decision to sign the Convention. Australia’s participation as one of the original signatories during the formal signing ceremony on 30 March 2007 reinforces the government’s long-standing commitment to supporting people with disability.

As you know, the Australian Government has been working with individuals with disability and allied organisations, such as Women With Disabilities Australia, throughout the successful treaty negotiations held over the past five years. The government is pleased that domestic stakeholders, including representatives of the disability sector, were able to work together to help shape and strengthen this treaty. The government extends its congratulations to all those involved in this significant achievement.

Having signed the Convention, Australia will now commence the usual processes necessary for domestic consideration of the Convention, which are required before a decision can be made on ratification. The processes include further consultation with domestic stakeholders.

Once again, thank you for writing. I hop my comments are of assistance.

Yours sincerely
David Frazer
Office of the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs
10 May 2007