Media Release by Senator the Hon Jan McLucas

UN Declares March 21 World Down Syndrome Day

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Australian Government today welcomed a resolution by the United Nations to designate March 21 as ‘World Down Syndrome Day.’

The Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd and Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Jan McLucas said the resolution, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in New York will see World Down Syndrome Day become an annual United Nations Observance day from next year.

“The Australian Government was pleased to support the resolution, which will raise awareness about Down syndrome worldwide,” Mr Rudd said.

“Australia is making a difference right around the world for people with disability. We’ve assisted Cambodia in developing disability rights legislation and in Samoa, with our support, the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture is developing inclusive education policies and programs, enabling children with a range of disabilities, including intellectual disability, to attend school.

According the World Health Organization, over a billion people, about fifteen per cent of the world’s population, have some form of disability.

“Australia is recognised globally for its leadership in helping give voice to the most voiceless. People with disability are benefiting from Australia’s aid program through increased access to education and scholarship programs, improved public infrastructure, and stronger disabled people’s organisations” said Mr Rudd.

Senator McLucas said the resolution will help boost awareness about Down syndrome

“A dedicated international day will further understanding of this genetic condition, which affects about one in 800 births worldwide,” Senator McLucas said.

“The Australian Government is putting people with disability and their carers front and centre with the development of a National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“And we’ve started work on implementing the National Disability Strategy, which sets a 10-year vision for all governments to tackle the barriers faced by Australians with disability.

“In 2012, our focus will be the design of the launch of a National Disability Insurance Scheme, but we will also focus on our international efforts – in particular to show leadership in our region in improving the lives of people with disability.

“The Australian Government is committed to making the lives of people with disability easier through a more inclusive society.

“In celebrating and recognising the contribution people with Down syndrome make to the community, World Down Syndrome Day will be invaluable in helping us achieve this goal.”