Speaker: George Sotiropoulos, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Social Services (DSS).
Australia welcomes the leadership taken by the UN Secretary General in promoting disability inclusion across the UN system. Australia remains a strong advocate for disability inclusive development and disability rights globally. Australia also welcomes the development and implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy having recently contributed funding to support a more inclusive UN system including initial implementation of the strategy.
Australia also remains committed to supporting an active and a central role for people with disabilities, and will continue to actively support international cooperation on disability inclusion.
Last month we concluded our three-year term as co-chair of the Global Action on Disability Network. However, we remain engaged in this unique and innovative collaboration towards more disability inclusive development and humanitarian action.
In the Human Rights Council, we continue to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. Mr President, one in five Australians has a disability. Ten years ago, the launch of the first National Disability Strategy paved the way to improve the lives of Australians with disabilities. The Strategy is a shared commitment by all governments to work together to improve the lives of Australians the disability, their families and carers.
The current Strategy expires in December 2020. Governments across Australia are now working together to develop a new Strategy that responds to a changed disability policy and delivery landscape which includes a fully implemented National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Australia’s NDIS now provides more than 275,000 people who have a permanent and significant disability with the reasonable and necessary supports they need. This includes around 85,000 people who were not previously receiving disability supports. Once fully mature, the scheme is expected to support around 460,000 Australians with a permanent and significant disability enabling choice and control over the support they need to achieve their goals and aspirations. The independent NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission has been established to regulate and improve the quality and safety of NDIS services and supports.
Australia is also committed to supporting its estimated 2.7 million unpaid carers providing support and care for someone with a disability, medical condition, or someone frail due to age.
From July this year, new and improved supports and services for carers will commence through an early intervention and services model. The services are designed to support carers to remain engaged and participate in education and the workforce.
Mr President, increased access to employment opportunities is important to improving economic security and personal well-being for people with disabilities. To help achieve this, Australia has a long standing commitment to support job seekers with disability into long-term employment through multi-programs, the largest of which is the Disability Employment Services program.