Remarks by Representative Jenny Bloomfield at the Virtual GCTF Conference on The Implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
4 November 2021
The Australian Office is pleased to co-host this Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) forum on “The Implementation of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”.
Thank you to our partners today – Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the American Institute in Taiwan, the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, and implementing partner Eden Social Welfare Foundation.
According to the WHO, there are around 1 billion people with disability in the world. In Australia, one in six people (nearly 4.5 million Australians) are estimated to have a disability.
Australia has been a strong and consistent advocate for disability inclusion and rights, in Australia, and around the world. Persons with disabilities must be able to enjoy all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with others.
Although much progress has been made, we know that significant challenges still remain. For example, persons with disability are more likely to experience poor health, discrimination, and violence, then those without disability.
People with disabilities have also been disproportionately affected by the health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19. In Australia, we are working to administer COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly as possible, while prioritising vulnerable Australians, including people with disabilities and those working in the disability sector. Globally, Australia is working with disability partners to enable people with disabilities to participate equally in, and benefit from, COVID‑19 response and recovery efforts.
It is critical that we work together to remove the barriers that restrict persons with disabilities from participating in society on an equal basis with others, while ensuring that people with disability themselves have a voice, and the capacity to contribute as leaders and decision makers in their communities.
And I am delighted to have the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner Mr Ben Gauntlett, speak to us on this important work.
I am also pleased to see Taiwan’s continued efforts to improve disability rights, and I applaud Taiwan’s practical steps to promote an inclusive and accessible environment for transport, work, education, and to promote employment opportunities and work rights of persons with disabilities.
I also applaud in particular the efforts of Taiwan’s newly established National Human Rights Commission, and I look forward to strengthening our cooperation.
I am confident that, with continued dialogue and strong partnerships between government, civil society and Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs), we will continue to see progress in realising the rights of persons with disabilities in Australia, Taiwan, our region, and the world.
I look forward to sharing lessons at today’s forum, and wish you productive discussions.