Parliament: Other Speeches

United Nations Anniversary

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: It will come as no surprise, I would hope, that Dignity for Disability certainly welcomes this motion. It is fortuitous that it coincides quite nicely with the United Nations International Day of People with Disability, celebrated on 3 December each year around the globe—that is, of course, tomorrow.

The existence of the United Nations provides a raft of sanity in a sea of unrest around the world. We look to the UN for the big picture thinking that we need to achieve meaningful change in many important areas, particularly around human rights. South Australia would do well to take heed of the UN initiatives such as the sustainable development goals launched earlier this year. Dignity for Disability adds its thanks and congratulations to the United Nations, South Australia Branch for its long standing commitment to its work.

Each year the UN announces a theme for International Day of People with Disability and the theme for 2015 is ‘Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities’. There are also three subthemes for this year and they are:

Making cities inclusive and accessible for all;

Improving disability data and statistics; and

Including persons with invisible disabilities in society and development.

There is so much more that we can do to improve our society. When the focus is on people with disabilities there is much to be gained throughout our community and that is because a city, town, suburb or country that embraces and celebrates diversity, including disability, makes itself more available, accessible and interesting to all.

Of course it would be remiss of me not to mention that South Australia and Australia as a nation is falling woefully behind in its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Women and girls with disability can still be forcibly sterilised or coerced into sterilisation in this country, and have their right to natural parenthood denied on the grounds of disability. I will be moving a motion on this particular subject at some point in the new year where I will elaborate. I think it is fair to say that given that we would not know whether anyone at the age of four, five, or even nine or 10 would be an adequate parent in the future, we should not make that assumption purely on the grounds of disability or health condition.

People with disabilities still face significant barriers to finding and keeping meaningful work. There are still people with disabilities who are paid 20¢ an hour in what are crudely known as ‘sheltered workshops’ or ‘Australian disability enterprises’. People with disabilities still face sexual and physical abuse and neglect at at least two times the rate of those without disability, and that sense of disability only increases with factors such as gender, experience, age and type of disability.

People with disabilities can still be indefinitely detained in prisons, even when found not guilty of any offence, purely because there is no adequate housing accommodation for them in the community. Those are, unfortunately, just a few of the examples I could give where South Australia as a state and Australia as a nation have fallen woefully behind in their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I will certainly be raising more of them in the coming weeks, but we have a long way to go. For that reason, I thank the Hon. Ms Lee for bringing this motion to the council and indicate Dignity for Disability’s warm and wholehearted support for it.