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Image of Alastair McEwin speaking and wearing a blue show ribbon labelled "Headliner"

The Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Alastair McEwin recently joined the IDEAS Annual General Meeting as a guest speaker. He gave some invaluable insights into how disability discrimination legislation has changed since its inception 25 years ago.

The Disability Discrimination Act is now 25 years old and it can be argued that although many inroads have been made, there is still a long way to go on the initial objectives that were laid out.

Some of the achievements include improved standards such as more accessible transport.

The standards of education are still not there, especially for children with disability.

Alastair questioned why advocacy and information are being defunded.

Yes, the NDIS is full of promise but it is difficult to navigate. But Medicare wouldn’t be defunded, so why would the NDIS?

One of the benefits of the NDIS is the higher profile that people with disability have been given which in turn, is also bringing about more emphasis to people without disability.

Image of Alastair McEwin speaking at IDEAS AGM with audience looking on

Discrimination on the grounds of disability is the most frequent concern for people who enquire about their human rights or who lodge complaints about breaches of those rights – this makes up 39% of all complaints to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).

The top complaints were access to employment opportunities and access to goods and services (banks, theatre tickets, etc.).

There are a number of challenges that remain which the DDA is trying to tackle. These are big things like living in an accessible house, getting a job, going to school, the law and legal system and violence against people with disability.

The NDIS is the most robust discussion for submission but for it to work, it has to be in a true human rights framework.

One of Alastair’s and the DDA’s priorities has been accessible housing – a mandated minimum standard for all new housing.

Now, new housing will be accessible by the NDIA by 2020.

When it comes to employment, there are a large number of people with a disability that are willing to work. Corporates are doing much better than the government.

To the future

The NDIS won’t be the solution to every single issue, for everyone. It is a way of getting people with disability into the community, for example getting to a social event. But then what about the accessible bus? This is when it is up to the government and pushing the human rights angle. For more information from Alastair McEwin on the NDIS, view a short video here: 

It is an exciting time for people with a disability. This is why there is a critical need for advocacy and information funding. There is a need to get support for the campaign and a need to get people to talk about it.

The DDA is committed to accessible information.

Want to help Alastair and others fight for the continued support of independent information and advocacy for people with disability? Sign our change.org petition now.