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Hearing explores turning the rights of people with disability into a reality

The next hearing of the Disability Royal Commission will examine the extent to which the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is yet to be incorporated into Australian domestic law.  The hearing will also consider how the CRPD can be used to enhance the human rights of people with disability.

The CRPD is an international human rights treaty that is intended to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

Australia became one of the first countries to ratify the CRPD in 2008 but how has it and can it change the lives of people with disability? This is what Public hearing 18 to be held on 8 and 9 November 2021 will examine.

The hearing will focus on the importance of the CRPD as a tool that ensures people with disability have access to the same rights and opportunities as every other Australian and how that can help to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

During Public hearing 5, Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Rosemary Kayess, stated Australia needs to include people with disability in public discourse to develop a whole-of-government approach to human rights moving beyond a focus on welfare policy, service enhancement and safeguards.

 “Until that is recognised, people with disability will continue to be… confined to systems and specialised care and protection, which actually through this process has created their vulnerability and heightened their risk - some might say exponentially,” she said.

Ms Kayess will again be appearing to give evidence on day one of Public hearing 18.

During the two-day hearing, the Royal Commission will hear from a range of people with disability and advocates, international law experts and human rights leaders to explore and examine:

  • the relevance and significance of the CRPD to people with disability in Australia;
  • the nature and extent to which CRPD rights are part of Australian domestic law;
  • the gaps in recognising and enforcing human rights for people with disability in Australia;
  • the Australian Government’s approach to the CRPD; and
  • models existing in Australia and in other countries for enforcing CRPD rights.

Dr Helen Watchirs OAM, the President of the ACT Human Rights Commission will give evidence to the Royal Commission on how the Human Rights Act 2004 (ACT) is changing the lives of people with disability in Canberra. The Australian Capital Territory was the first Australian jurisdiction to introduce human rights legislation.

Representatives from the Australian Government will also be called to give evidence during day two of the hearing.

The Chair, Ronald Sackville AO QC, will preside over the hearing along with Commissioner Alastair McEwin AM and Commissioner John Ryan AM.

Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission will be Kate Eastman AM SC.

Public hearing 18 will be live-streamed on the Royal Commission website and include live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.

Please note journalists should register (in advance if possible) with the Disability Royal Commission media team for a Lexel log-in code to access the live stream and transcript.

Please direct all inquiries to the Disability Royal Commission Media team on 0436 841 166 or via our email