Published on 15 November 2013.
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The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released an Issues Paper, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws (IP 44), calling for submissions to its Disability Inquiry. The ALRC has been asked to review Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks that may deny or diminish the equal recognition of people with disability as persons before the law, including how these laws affect their ability to exercise legal capacity, and what, if any, changes could be made to address this inequality.

The purpose of this Inquiry is to ensure that Australian laws and legal frameworks are responsive to the needs of people with disability and advance, promote and respect their rights. The Issues Paper asks over 40 questions about how the law might treat people with disability unfairly in areas including: employment, health, social security, banking, insurance, restrictive practices, access to justice, aged care, and anti-discrimination.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher, Commissioner-in-charge of the Inquiry stated, “We want to hear from people across the community about the issues they face in these various spheres on a daily basis. Understanding the experiences of people with disability—for example, in relation to voting, to being on a jury, forming relationships or getting married and having children, of supported and substituted decision-making, of guardianship and aged care—is going to be key as we investigate the myriad of ways in which people with disability may be treated unfairly by the laws in question. Submissions will help us to develop our proposals for reforming the laws to make them fairer.”

In undertaking this Inquiry, the ALRC has been asked specifically to identify and consult with people with disability who are also children, women, Indigenous people, older people, people in rural, remote and regional areas, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. The ALRC also wants to hear from the representatives and the families and carers of people with disability. To assist in this national and wide-reaching consultation process, the ALRC has also produced an Easy English version of the Issues Paper.

The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to specific questions, or to any of the background material and analysis contained in the Issues Paper.

The Issues Paper is  is available free of charge on the ALRC website at www.alrc.gov.au/publications/disability-IP44

The Easy English IP is at www.alrc.gov.au/easy-english-ip-44

The ALRC prefers submissions via the ALRC online submission form: www.alrc.gov.au/content/disability-ip44-make-submission

Submissions are due to the ALRC on 16 December 2013.

The ALRC plans to release a Discussion Paper in April 2014 will provide its final report to the Attorney-General by August 2014.  Subscribe to the Disability Inquiry e-news on the ALRC website.