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Persons with Disability and the Australian Constitution

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The ‘Persons with Disability and the Australian Constitution’ report investigated the extent and use of the Commonwealth’s legislative powers that enable it to provide support for and protect the rights of people with disability.

It has found three distinct periods of time in which the Commonwealth positively moved to support its citizens with disability.

Persons with Disability and the Australian Constitution (Auslan)


Persons with Disability and the Australian Constitution

Three academics wrote this report for the Disability Royal Commission

The report is called ‘Persons with Disability and the Australian Constitution’.

The Australian Constitution has rules about how the Australian Government and state and territory governments should work together.

The Constitution was written over 100 years ago.

At that time, it didn’t say much about how we should help people with disability and protect their human rights.

To change the Constitution you need to have a referendum where the whole of Australia votes yes or no.

The report is about how new laws have been created over time to better meet the needs of people with disability.

The report describes different times when the Australian Government made positive decisions to support people with disability.

One of these times was when the Constitution changed in 1946. 

This change introduced laws that gave people with disability better access to medicines, health care, hospitals and dental care.

This helped lots of people when they returned to Australia after World War 2.

Later the Australian Government made laws to better protect the human rights of people with disability and make life better for people with disability.

The researchers’ assessment of Australia’s constitutional powers revealed that the Australian Government could do more to legislate greater rights for people with disability in the future. 

The report says the Australian Government’s role to support people with disability has historically relied on cooperation between the Australian Government and states and territory governments.

This is to avoid any legal issues from the Australian Government providing support to people with disability directly.

The Australian Government has assumed greater prominence in the lives of people with disability over time even though it does not have explicit legislative power with respect to people with disability.

To read the report, and for more information, visit the Publications section on our website.