Relevant Parts of the Convention

The Convention outlines a series of ‘Articles’ which outline the obligations of each country (or ‘States Parties’) to ‘ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability’.[1] The Articles within the Convention cover an extensive range of areas, which have best been summarised by the ABCB:[2]

  • Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons
  • Non-discrimination;
  • Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
  • Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
  • Equality of opportunity;
  • Accessibility;
  • Equality between men and women;
  • Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.

Australia has also acceded to the Optional Protocol to the Convention and this came into force for Australia on 20 September 2009. The optional protocol is a separate instrument to the convention, which allows a UN Committee to receive complaints from individuals or groups who believe their country has breached the Convention “after all domestic remedies have been exhausted.”[3]

The Convention has some key statements worth repeating within this Guide:

Article 5 (Equality and non-discrimination) says:

  • States Parties recognize that all persons are equal before and under the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law
  • States Parties shall prohibit all discrimination on the basis of disability and guarantee to persons with disabilities equal and effective legal protection against discrimination on all grounds.
  • In order to promote equality and eliminate discrimination, States Parties shall take all appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable accommodation is provided.

Article 9 (Accessibility)

  • To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia:
  • Buildings, roads, transportation and other indoor and outdoor facilities, including schools, housing, medical facilities and workplaces;
  • Information, communications and other services, including electronic services and emergency services.
  • States Parties shall also take appropriate measures:
  • To develop, promulgate and monitor the implementation of minimum standards and guidelines for the accessibility of facilities and services open or provided to the public;
  • To ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities;
  • To provide training for stakeholders on accessibility issues facing persons with disabilities;
  • To provide in buildings and other facilities open to the public signage in Braille and in easy to read and understand forms;
  • To provide forms of live assistance and intermediaries, including guides, readers and professional sign language interpreters, to facilitate accessibility to buildings and other facilities open to the public;
  • To promote other appropriate forms of assistance and support to persons with disabilities to ensure their access to information;
  • To promote access for persons with disabilities to new information and communications technologies and systems, including the Internet;
  • To promote the design, development, production and distribution of accessible information and communications technologies and systems at an early stage, so that these technologies and systems become accessible at minimum cost.

Article 11 (Situations of risk and humanitarian emergencies)

  • States Parties shall take, in accordance with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, all necessary measures to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in situations of risk, including situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and the occurrence of natural disasters.

 Article 27 (Work and employment)

  • States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities. States Parties shall safeguard and promote the realization of the right to work, including for those who acquire a disability during the course of employment, by taking appropriate steps, including through legislation.

The ABCB reported in their ‘Emergency Egress for Occupants with Disability Consultation Regulation Impact Statement’ that “the Committee responsible for dealing with complaints identified significant short coming relating to all Australians with disability” [4]

Additionally, Item 23 of the United Nations 2013 report, ‘Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Concluding observations on the initial report of Australia, adopted by the Committee at its tenth session (2–13 September 2013)’ provided the following comment on Australia’s commitment to the articles of the Convention:

The Committee calls upon the State party in consultation with people with disabilities, to establish nationally consistent emergency management standards, that are implemented across all three levels of government; to ensure inclusivity across diverse disabilities and to cover all phases of emergency management preparation, early warning, evacuation, interim housing and support, recovery and rebuilding. It further recommends inclusion in National Plans of emergency response schemes for persons with disabilities.[5]

[1] United Nations, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/convtexte.htm#optprotocol, viewed 20 August 2015

[2] Australian Building Codes Board 2014, Emergency Egress for Occupants with Disability Consultation Regulation Impact Statement, p.15, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/RIS%20docs/Consultation_RIS_Emergency_Egress_for_Occupants_with_Disability.ashx?la=e, viewed 27 August 2015

[3] Australian Government Attorney-General Department, Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/HumanRights/Pages/UnitedNationsConventionontherightsofpersonswithdisabilities.aspx, viewed 20 August 2015

[4] Australian Building Codes Board 2014, Emergency Egress for Occupants with Disability Consultation Regulation Impact Statement, p.15, http://www.abcb.gov.au/~/media/Files/Download%20Documents/RIS%20docs/Consultation_RIS_Emergency_Egress_for_Occupants_with_Disability.ashx?la=e, viewed 27 August 2015

[5] Australian Government Attorney-General Department, http://www.ag.gov.au/RightsAndProtections/HumanRights/TreatyBodyReporting/Documents/UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Concluding Observations.doc, viewed 19 August 2015

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Buildings need exit and emergency signs to identify parts of the accessible means of egress. An Accessible Exit Sign Project Initiative.

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