Celebrating 25 years of Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act

21 March 2018

Did you know that 25 years ago Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act became law? To mark the occasion, Council for Intellectual Disability produced an Easy Read guide to the Act, which we presented to Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin.

The Australian Disability Discrimination Act came into force 25 years ago. This was an important occasion for people with disability in Australia because the Act makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disability in many areas of community life.

On 1 March 2018 Council for Intellectual Disability (CID) staff attended an event in Sydney celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Act.

“There was a great turn out of people from all parts of Australia’s disability community – people with disability, family members and advocates,” said Rachel Spencer, CID’s Quality and Inclusion Manager. “The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, also attended and spoke about protecting the rights of people with disability around the world. Her insights really put our Australian work into an international context.”

“Catalina reminded us that although we are leaders in some areas of disability rights, we must keep working hard to protect the rights of all people with disability to ensure no-one is left behind.”

A birthday present for the Act

At the event, we presented our 25th Anniversary Easy Read Guide to the Disability Discrimination Act to Australian Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin.

Mr McEwin, who described the Guide as excellent, made sure the Guide was added to the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Improving the Act

CID celebrates the Disability Discrimination Act. The Act has influenced many other laws and policies in Australia and has had a positive impact on inclusion and access.

But the Act does not ensure equal rights for all people with disability in all situations, and we recognise that improvements need to be made to the Act.

Laws such as the Disability Discrimination Act are always changing. The Disability Discrimination Act itself has had many amendments since coming into law in 1992.

There are many ways an important Act such as this can be improved. For example:

  • There is still some confusion about what is and isn’t covered by the Act. This needs to be clarified.
  • The Act does not ensure fair pay for people with disability. We believe it should.
  • There are many clauses that could be added to strengthen the intention of the Act. For example, disability inclusion officers could be required at all workplaces, just as work health and safety officers are required by law. These officers could specialise in how to include and support people with disability in their workplaces.

CID continues to argue for improvements to the Act to ensure that it works well and protects all people with disability.

But we recognise that this is an important Act for people with disability. We hope you will join us in wishing the Act a happy birthday, and look forward with us to 25 more years of improved protections for people with disability.

Happy birthday Disability Discrimination Act!


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