What key international and national legislative and policy instruments influence the disability context?

The NDIS relationship with key policy instruments, data sources and the international and national legislative framework are summarised in this section.

What UN instruments are influencing the disability context?

The United Nations (UN) ‘Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (UNCRPD or ‘the Convention’) and its Optional Protocol was adopted by the UN in 2006. Australia's ratification of the UNCRPD in 2008 reflects the Australian Government's commitment to take action and support a coordinated plan across all levels of government to improve the lives of people with disability, their families and carers.

The UNCRPD is a human rights instrument and seeks to reaffirm that all people with disability must enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Convention challenges historical paradigms that viewed people with disability as ‘objects’ of charity, medical treatment and social protection and in contrast positions people with disability as ‘subjects’ with human rights equal to all others. The Convention makes explicit that adaptations must be made where this is necessary to enable people to exercise their rights; where rights have been violated; and where rights must be reinforced.

The UNCRPD Principles include:

  1. Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
  2. Non-discrimination;
  3. Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  4. Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  5. Equality of opportunity;
  6. Accessibility;
  7. Equality between men and women;
  8. Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

What is the purpose of the National Disability Strategy?

The National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (the Strategy) has been developed to guide public policy across governments in Australia and aims to bring about change in all mainstream services and programs as well as community infrastructure so that people with disability have the same opportunities as other Australians.

The Strategy sets out a ten year national plan for improving life for Australians with disability, their families and carers. It draws on the findings of extensive consultation conducted in 2008-09 by the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council and reported in Shut Out: The Experience of People with Disabilities and their Families in Australia (2009) 

The Strategy covers six policy areas:

  1. Inclusive and accessible communities;
  2. Rights protection, justice and legislation;
  3. Economic security;
  4. Personal and community support;
  5.  Learning and skills;
  6. Health and wellbeing

Policy directions have been developed for each policy area. The nominated outcome for the health and wellbeing policy area is that, 'People with disability attain highest possible health and wellbeing outcomes throughout their lives.' The four policy directions for the health and wellbeing policy area include:

  1. All health service providers (including hospitals, general practices, specialist services, allied health, dental health, mental health, population health programs and ambulance services) have the capabilities to meet the needs of people with disability;
  2. Timely, comprehensive and effective prevention and early intervention health services for people with disability;
  3. Universal health reforms and initiatives address the needs of people with disability, their families and carers;
  4. Factors fundamental to wellbeing and health status such as choice and control, social participation and relationships, to be supported in government policy and program design.

What is the purpose of the National Standards for Disability Services?

The National Standards for Disability Services (PDF) (National Standards) help to promote and drive a nationally consistent approach to improving the quality of services. They focus on rights and outcomes for people with disability.

There are six National Standards that apply to disability service providers:

  1. Rights: The service promotes individual rights to freedom of expression, self-determination and decision-making and actively prevents abuse, harm, neglect and violence.
  2. Participation and Inclusion: The service works with individuals and families, friends and carers to promote opportunities for meaningful participation and active inclusion in society.
  3. Individual Outcomes: Services and supports are assessed, planned, delivered and reviewed to build on individual strengths and enable individuals to reach their goals.
  4. Feedback and Complaints: Regular feedback is sought and used to inform individual and organisation-wide service reviews and improvement.
  5. Service Access: The service manages access, commencement and leaving a service in a transparent, fair, equal and responsive way.
  6. Service Management: The service has effective and accountable service management and leadership to maximise outcomes for individuals[1].

Each state and territory administer their own standards based on the National Standards and will continue to administer these during the NDIS transition period. Subject to the redevelopment of a new National Disability Strategy from 2020 it is unclear whether the states and territories will revise their standards.

[1] Source - standards taken from National Standards for Disability Services (PDF)

What key federal and state legislation contributes to the realisation of human rights for people with disability?

The following Australian federal and state legislation are relevant to the disability field and aim to protect people from discrimination and breaches of human rights.[1]

  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • Disability services Act (Fed) 1986
  • Disability Services Act 2006 – QLD
  • Disability Services Act 1991 – ACT
  • Disability Inclusion Act 2014 – NSW
  • Disability Services Act 2012 – NT
  • Disability Services Act 1993 – SA
  • Disability Services Act 2011 – TAS
  • Disability Services Act 2006 – VIC
  • Disability Services act 1993 - WA
  • Social Security Act 1991
  • National Disability Insurance Services Act 2013

[1] Source - Australian Human Rights Commission  

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