In March 2014, Deaf Australia contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs to discuss an Australian nomination for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) Committee.
Australia as a nation is eligible to send a nomination for the Committee and Deaf Australia wanted the Australian Government to consider and endorse an Australian person.
“We are keen to continue the strong tradition and profile of Australian representation in the international disability section, especially with prominent Australians such as: - Prof Ronald McCallum (immediate past Chairperson of the UN CRPD committee) - Mr Colin Allen (current President of the World Federation of the Deaf, Vice Chairperson of the International Disability Alliance) - Ms Marianne Diamond (immediate past President of the World Blind Union, and current Chairperson of the International Disability Alliance),” said Deaf Australia President Todd Wright.
Although the Department for Foreign Affairs praised Deaf Australia’s efforts in engaging Australia in human rights and UNCRPD issues, they said the Government would not be nominating an Australian candidate for the CPRD election.
Their reply to us stated that Australia has maintained a strong presence on the Committee, with Professor McCallum completing his chairmanship this year, and they see the value of supporting strong Australian candidates to United nations positions, however they believe that it is appropriate to allow other UN members equal opportunity to contribute to the Committee.
Deaf Australia is disappointed to hear about the position of the Australian Government, but understands their rationale.
We are urging the Australian Government to monitor the election process for the UNCRPD Committee to ensure that people with disabilities are elected into the committee, and that deaf people are represented in the UNCRPD committee.
“It is our concern that deaf people are not particularly well represented in the UNCRPD Committee,” explained Todd Wright. “This concern is also shared by the World Federation of the Deaf.”
The application for nominations closed on 10 April 2014, however elections will be held again in 2016. Deaf Australia hopes to have an opportunity to elect a deaf Australian candidate into the UNCRPD Committee at that time because we believe that Deaf people need to have a ‘fair go’ in representing the disability sector at the international level.