Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council – 22nd Regular Session
Annual Debate on the rights of persons with disabilities
6 March 2013

Australia thanks the panel for the opportunity to participate in today’s important discussion on the rights of people with disability, and welcomes the thematic study by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the work and employment of persons with disabilities.

Australia acknowledges the many challenges faced by people with disability, including the difficulties faced in finding and keeping a job. Participating in paid work is more than just having employment: it is a key aspect of engagement in community life, and a boost to self-esteem and morale.

Australia strongly supports the creation of inclusive work environments that enable people with disability to participate in employment with appropriate supports, provided by well-trained support staff in accessible and safe work environments.

We also recognise that achieving equality for people with disability in employment is not simply a matter of fulfilling a quota for disability-designated positions, or implementing procedures to make reasonable accommodations for people with disability in the workplace.

As highlighted in the thematic study, it is equally important that we meet the challenge of reversing the negative attitudes, stereotypes and stigmas associated with people with disability, and address the misconception that people with disability are somehow “unsuitable” for certain forms of employment. Importantly, we should work to invert the trend of people with disability being more likely to be employed in low-paying jobs, with poor working conditions and prospects for advancement, in comparison to the rest of the labour force.

We encourage Governments, along with private and public sector employers, to take the lead in encouraging a shift in attitudes, to recognise that it is no longer sufficient to simply cater for people with disability. It is now time for employers to include and welcome people with disability into the workforce on an equal basis with others, in order to fulfil the international community’s commitment to protect the right to work for people with disability.