Speech by The Hon Jane Prentice MP

Australia-International Disability Alliance Reception, United Nations headquarters


Thank you Gillian,

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests.

It is my honour to be here this evening representing Australia.

I would like to thank Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, and Mr Colin Allen, Chair of the International Disability Alliance for hosting this event and inviting me to speak.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Mr Alastair McEwin, Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Rosemary Kayess, the Australian candidate for Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, excellencies, distinguished guests, and ladies and gentlemen.

As many of you know, Australia was one of the original state signatories to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘the Convention’).

Accessibility is a priority for Australia’s international engagement in development, humanitarian and human rights.

There are 4.3 million people with disability in Australia – that’s close to 20 per cent of the Australian population. We are committed to ensuring the rights of these citizens are protected.

Australia’s National Disability Strategy 2010-20 is an important mechanism for ensuring the principles underpinning the Convention are incorporated into policies and programs affecting people with disability, their families and carers.

The Strategy was developed in consultation with people with disability and is Australia’s overarching framework for improving the life outcomes of Australians with disability.

The Strategy focuses on six key outcome areas:

  • Inclusive and Accessible Communities
  • Rights Protection, Justice and Legislation
  • Economic Security
  • Personal and Community Support
  • Learning and Skills
  • and Health and Wellbeing.

One of the biggest social reforms in Australian history is the creation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The aim of this approach is to ensure economic security for people with disability so they can plan for the future, achieve their goals and have choice and control over their lives.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme is being rolled out across Australia gradually over several years.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme gives choice and control to participants over the services and support they receive, by involving them directly in the planning process.

Each National Disability Insurance Scheme participant gets a tailored plan based on how their disability affects their daily life, with funding for the supports and services they need.

The National Disability Strategy and the National Disability Insurance Scheme are just some of the ways Australia is implementing the Convention.

As reported in the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade White Paper, Australia’s national interests are best advanced by an evolution of the international system that is anchored in international law, supporting the rights and freedoms in the United Nations declarations, and the principles of good governance, transparency and accountability.

To further these principles, I would like to support Ms Rosemary Kayess’ election to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Rosemary’s intellect and integrity would strengthen the Committee. Her expertise in international law and human rights would bring a wealth of knowledge to any matters under the Committee’s consideration. The Australian Government is certain Rosemary would contribute as a Committee member to promote and protect human rights both domestically and internationally as well as meaningfully work towards the full implementation of the Convention.

Finally, it will be my honour to deliver Australia’s National Statement and the Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia (MIKTA) Statement tomorrow and Australia looks forward to working with you towards leaving no one behind.

Thank you.