Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 411. Updated Tuesday, 27 May 2014

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Ensuring disability no bar to equality

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released the final consultation paper in its inquiry into disability and Commonwealth laws, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws.

The Discussion Paper presents more than 50 proposals for reform of Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks to better provide people with disability equal recognition before the law.

President of ALRC and Commissioner-in-charge of the Inquiry, Professor Rosalind Croucher said the reforms would encourage supported decision-making - where people with disability are assisted to make their own decisions - rather than being assumed as unable to make decisions or encouraged to allow other people to make decisions for them.

ALRC release final paper

Professor Croucher said the emphasis was on ensuring that it was the wishes and preferences of people with disability that drive the decisions that they make, and that others may make for them.

"The key principles that we have proposed should inform many areas of the law where people with disability are required to make decisions, whether these decisions are about the NDIS, social security, health matters or the myriad of other areas where we all have to make decisions that affect our lives," she said.

"The principles that should drive reform are that every adult has the right to make their own decisions; and to be provided with the support necessary for them to do so, and any decisions made for them are directed by their will, preferences and rights (and not by other people's ideas about their best interests)."

Professor Croucher said the ALRC was proposing a new Commonwealth model of supported decision-making, underpinned by these principles, which would operate when people interact with Commonwealth Agencies and systems.

She said the ALRC was also proposing that this model would guide a review of State and Territory laws effecting people with disability.

The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the ALRC's proposals contained in the Discussion Paper by Monday 30 June 2014.

The Discussion Paper is available on the ALRC website at this PS News link and as an ebook.

An Easy English Summary of the Discussion Paper is at this PS News link.

The ALRC will provide its Final Report to the Attorney-General by 31 August 2014.

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