MEDIA RELEASE: The ACT expected to have a Disability Inclusion Bill introduced before the end of 2023

MEDIA RELEASE: The ACT expected to have a Disability Inclusion Bill introduced before the end of 2023 Main Image

10 August 2023

Suzanne Orr MLA is launching a public consultation phase on her new bill which will introduce a Disability Inclusion Act for the ACT.

The Disability Inclusion Bill 2023 is an Act to promote inclusion of people with disability in the ACT community, by proactively removing existing barriers to help ensure full participation, equity, and inclusion for people with disability across our community.

Suzanne Orr MLA, who is introducing the bill, says this legislation moves the ACT towards a social model of understanding and addressing disability, which is a profound and important shift in the way we address inequity in our ACT community.

“Historically people with disability have been required to adapt to a world that fails to respond to their needs, this isn’t fair and through this bill we hope to change that.”

“A social model of disability recognises that to support people with disability we as a community need to alter the physical, attitudinal, communication and social barriers that we often unintentionally, through these norms, establish.” says Ms Orr.

The Bill establishes a framework for creating disability inclusion strategies across government in priority areas of participation, such as health, education, employment, justice, and social inclusion, with development in consultation with people with disability and key stakeholders.

ACT Government agencies will be required to develop disability inclusion plans which are specific to their organisation and detail how they are going to adapt their work processes and programs to be more inclusive of people with disability.

Ms Orr says the Bill will enforce institutional change and help remove barriers for people with a disability in our community.

“It is estimated that there are over 80,000 people in the ACT who identity as living with a disability, and we have concerningly high reports of discrimination with one in ten people with a disability experiencing discrimination,” says Ms Orr.

 “We need to ensure that people with a disability feel included and supported in our community. This Disability Inclusion Bill will drive long term and systemic change to better promote the inclusion of people with disability in the ACT community.”

The Bill will establish a Disability Advisory Council to advise the ACT Government on systemic change on issues faced by people with a disability.

NSW and SA are the only states in Australia that have Disability Inclusion Acts, with each Act different to this Bill due to the legislative framework of each particular state.

Craig Wallace, Head of Policy for Advocacy for Inclusion welcomes the launch of a new draft Disability Inclusion Act by Suzanne Orr MLA.

“The Disability Inclusion Bill provides a sensible and comprehensive framework for ensuring that strategies and plans are introduced and maintained across time, as well as placing expectations on all agencies to develop such plans to a good standard. A legislative underpinning for inclusion strategies and plans is an important step forward.”

“We look forward to the introduction and passage of the Bill through the Assembly and we are also looking toward the early realisation of this approach through the full implementation and funding of the ACT Disability Strategy and the ACT Disability Health Strategy.” Says Mr Wallace.

The Bill is expected to be introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly before the end of 2023, after an extensive consultation period with key stakeholders and the community.