ALRC Review of equal recognition before the law and legal capacity for people with disability announced

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today received Terms of Reference from the Federal Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, for an Inquiry into Legal Barriers for People with Disabilities. ALRC President, Professor Rosalind Croucher will lead the Inquiry that will examine laws and legal frameworks within the Commonwealth jurisdiction that deny or diminish the equal recognition of people with disability as persons before the law and their ability to exercise legal capacity, and consider what, if any, changes could be made to Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks to address these matters.

The Attorney-General has also announced the appointment of Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Graeme Innes AM, as a part-time Commissioner for the duration of the Inquiry. Commissioner Innes has been Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner since December 2005. During that time he has also served as Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner for three and a half years and as Race Discrimination Commissioner for two years.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher stated, “We are delighted to welcome Commissioner Innes to the ALRC to assist us in this Inquiry.  He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the disability area and will contribute a unique and informed perspective to the ALRC’s deliberations.”

The purpose of this review is to ensure that Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks are responsive to the needs of people with disability and to advance, promote and respect their rights. The Terms of Reference specifically ask the ALRC to have particular regard for the ways that 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 are affected by these laws and frameworks.

Professor Croucher said, “This is a very large and extremely important task, particularly at this time with the historic implementation of Disability Care. I look forward to involving the many community stakeholders in this important and timely review.”

Commissioner Innes has been leading the work of the Australian Human Rights Commission on access to justice for people with disability. He stated, “I am keen to share my knowledge with the ALRC and my work on the development of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disability, which Australia has ratified, will inform our discussions.”

In undertaking this reference, the ALRC has been asked to identify and consult with relevant stakeholders, particularly people with disability and their representative, advocacy and legal organisations, including through accessible formats, but also families and carers of people with disability, relevant Government departments and agencies in the Commonwealth and States and Territories, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and other key non-government stakeholders.  The ALRC will work towards releasing its first Consultation Paper in October 2013.

The ALRC will provide its final report to the Attorney-General by August 2014. 

Further information about the ALRC’s inquiry work can be found at

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