Rights are protected and upheld

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), and state and territory human rights/anti-discrimination bodies play an important role in promoting and protecting rights of people with disability, including helping individuals and organisations understand and meet their legal responsibilities. Disability advocacy supports people with disability to safeguard their rights, experience equality and overcome barriers that can affect their ability to participate in the community (Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031).

Advocacy program support

Funded by the Australian Government, the National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) provides advocacy support to people with disability that promotes, protects and ensures their full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, enabling their community participation (DSS 2022).

The measure is intended to track the proportion of those people who accessed independent advocacy programs who report improved choice and control to make their own decisions. The first year for which data are available for this measure is 2020–21. This is because the reporting on improved choice and control to make one’s own decisions by NDAP clients only became mandatory as of 1 January 2021. For 2020–21, 8.6% of clients had been assessed – that is, 8.6% of NDAP clients had been asked about improved choice and control to make their own decisions. For 2021–22, 14% of NDAP clients had been assessed. The proportion of assessed clients will increase over time. In view of this, the measure is reported here as:

  • proportion of assessed NDAP clients who reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions.

The desired key system outcome for this measure is that people with disability get the information and supports they need to have their rights upheld and to make their own decisions.

System measure: Proportion of assessed NDAP clients who reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: Department of Social Services – Data Exchange (DEX)

Results at baseline: 2020–21

  • In 2020–21, around 6 in 10 (62%) of assessed NDAP clients reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions.
  • There was minimal difference between the proportion of male and female NDAP clients who reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions (63% and 62%, respectively).
  • Two-thirds of assessed NDAP clients aged 0–24 reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions (66%). This was a little higher than for clients aged 45–64 (63%) and 25–44 (59%).

Latest results: 2021–22

  • In 2021–22, 58.8% of assessed clients reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions. This was 3.4 percentage points lower than at baseline (2020–21) when it was 62.2% (Figure 4.5).
  • Although the proportion of assessed clients in 2021–22 was higher (14%) than in 2020–21 (8.6%), the data may not be representative of all participants in the program. For this reason, there is some uncertainty in the data. Care should be taken when looking at reported progress for this measure and the difference needs to continue to be monitored.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • A ‘client’ can be either a person with disability or a carer/family member of a person with disability.
  • The SCORE system used for the NDAP data is designed to measure the result of a client’s interaction with a service funded by the Department of Social Services, and it captures a point in time in the client’s service journey.

Latest results: 58.8% (2021–22)

Baseline: 62.6% (2020–21)

Progress status (preliminary): Regress

Confidence status: Care should be taken when looking at the reported progress status for this measure as there is some uncertainty in the data

Figure 4.5: Proportion of assessed NDAP clients (all ages) who reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions, 2020–21 to 2021–22

These data show the proportion of assessed National Disability Advocacy Program (NDAP) clients (of all ages) who reported improved choice and control to make their own decisions. In 2021–22, 58.8% of assessed NDAP clients reported improved choice and control compared with 62.2% in 2020–21.

Source: Department of Social Services – Data Exchange (DEX) | Data source overview

For more information on this measure, including breakdowns of the data, visit Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Advocacy program support.

Discrimination complaints resolved

Disability discrimination occurs when a person with disability is treated less favourably than a person without disability in circumstances that are not materially different (Australian Government 1992). The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cwlth) makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person because of their disability in many areas of public life, including employment, education, getting or using services, renting or buying a house or unit, and accessing public places (AHRC 2014).

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, disability is broadly defined to include physical, intellectual, sensory, neurological and psychiatric disability, as well as including people who may have a disease and people with an imputed disability (that is, being treated as if they have disability). Relatives, friends and carers are also protected if they are discriminated against because of their association with a person with disability (AHRC 2016).

The AHRC is an independent statutory organisation that functions under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cwlth) to protect and promote human rights in Australia. A key function of the AHRC is to inquire into and attempt to conciliate complaints of unlawful discrimination (Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986). In 2020–21, the highest proportion of all complaints received by the AHRC were lodged under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (37%) (AHRC 2022a).

Many complaints lodged with the AHRC are resolved through conciliation. This process provides the complainant (the person making the complaint) and the respondent (the person or organisation being complained about) with an opportunity to talk about the issues raised in the complaint and attempt to resolve the matter themselves (AHRC 2022b). Not all complaints lodged with the AHRC go through a conciliation process and can be finalised on other grounds. For example, some are terminated or declined because they are outside the scope of the relevant Act, or another remedy has been sought and the AHRC is satisfied that the subject matter of the complaint has been adequately dealt with. Others may be withdrawn by complainants or discontinued; for example, where a complainant does not respond to the Commission’s attempts to contact them.

This measure is intended to track the proportion of complaints related to disability discrimination lodged with the AHRC/relevant state and territory bodies that are investigated and resolved. Due to differences between the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and state and territory acts relating to disability discrimination, the measure is reported here as:

  • proportion of complaints related to disability discrimination lodged with the AHRC that are successfully resolved by conciliation.

The measure focuses on complaints that were attempted to be resolved by conciliation. The desired key system outcome for this measure is that the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 is implemented effectively to ensure people with disability are not discriminated against.

System measure: Proportion of complaints related to disability discrimination lodged with the AHRC that are successfully resolved by conciliation

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: AHRC – Business Systems

Results at baseline: 2020–21

  • In 2020–21, almost three-quarters (72% or 495) of the 688 complaints related to disability discrimination that were lodged with the AHRC and went through a conciliation process were successfully resolved.
  • This proportion was higher in 2020–21 than in 2011–12, when it was less than two‑thirds (62%). The proportion of complaints successfully resolved through conciliation has fluctuated over the reference period, with the highest proportion in 2017–18 (74%) and the lowest in 2012–13 (60%) (Figure 4.6).
  • Based on regression modelling of the data, there was a modelled 1% increase per year and a modelled increase of 14% over the reference period.

Latest results

Updated data are not yet available for this measure. AHRC complaints data for 2021–22 will be included in the 2023 annual report.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • One complaint may raise a number of grounds and areas of discrimination and be against one or more respondents (AHRC 2022b).
  • Complaints for which a conciliation process was begun but which could not be resolved through this process include those that were finalised on other grounds; for example, they may have been withdrawn.

Figure 4.6: Proportion of complaints related to disability discrimination lodged with the AHRC that were successfully resolved by conciliation, 2011–12 to 2020–21

These data show the proportion of complaints related to disability discrimination lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission that are successfully resolved by conciliation. Data from 2011–12 to 2020–21 are used. In 2020–21, 71.9% of lodged complaints related to disability discrimination were resolved, compared with 62% in 2011–12.

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) – Business Systems | Data source overview

For more information on this measure, including breakdowns of the data, visit Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Discrimination complaints resolved.

Freedom from discrimination

Experiencing discrimination makes participating in everyday life more difficult. It can affect education and employment opportunities and limit social interactions. A person unable to participate in everyday activities, or who avoids situations, may be at higher risk of adverse outcomes, including social isolation, unemployment and poor health (AIHW 2022).

The desired population outcome for this measure is to see a decrease in discrimination against people with disability. Data for this measure are from the ABS SDAC.

Population measure: Proportion of people with disability who have not experienced discrimination due to disability in the last 12 months

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: ABS SDAC

Results at baseline: 2018

  • In 2018, 90% of people aged 15 and over with disability did not experience discrimination due to disability in the last 12 months.
  • There was no real difference between the proportion of people with disability aged 15 and over who reported not having experienced disability discrimination in the previous 12 months in 2015 (91%) and 2018 (90%) (Figure 4.6). Looking at broad age groups, significant, albeit small, differences were found for both 15–64 and 65 and over age groups, with proportions lower in 2018 than in 2015 (15–64 years: 84.5% and 86.2%, respectively; 65 years and over: 96.8% and 97.9%, respectively).
  • In 2018, there was a small difference in the proportion of males (91.2%) and females (89.7%) who reported that they did not experience discrimination due to disability in the previous 12 months (a difference of 1.5 percentage points).
  • The age group most likely to have reported not having experienced discrimination in the previous 12 months was those aged 65 and over (97%).
  • People with severe or profound disability were less likely to report not having experienced discrimination due to disability in the previous 12 months (82%) than those with other disability (93%).

Latest results

Updated data are not yet available for this measure. New data from the 2022 ABS SDAC are expected to be available in the first half of 2024 and included in the 2024 annual report.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • The ABS SDAC collects discrimination data for people with disability aged 15 and over living in households who had a personal interview. Unlike other modules in the ABS SDAC, the discrimination module does not allow response by a proxy.

Figure 4.7: Proportion of people with disability aged 15 and over who have not experienced discrimination due to disability in the last 12 months, 2015 and 2018

These data show the proportion of people with disability (aged 15 and over) who have not experienced discrimination due to disability in the last 12 months. Data from 2015 and 2018 are used. In 2018, 90.4% of people with disability had not experienced discrimination due to disability, and 91.4% in 2015.

More detailed data by age group are shown in the table.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC) | Data source overview

For more information on this measure, including breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | Freedom from discrimination.

NDIS participants capacity to self-advocate

Self-advocacy is when a person or group with disability speaks up or acts to represent themselves. Self-advocacy, or assistance with advocacy, is important to promote and protect an individual’s rights (DRC 2020).

Data for this measure are collected as part of the NDIS Short Form questionnaire. Data include NDIS participants who responded ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Do you feel able to advocate (stand up) for yourself? That is, do you feel able to speak up if you have issues or problems with accessing supports?’

Population measure: Proportion of NDIS participants who feel able to advocate (stand up) for themselves

Desired outcome: Increase in the proportion

Data source: NDIA Business Systems

Results at baseline: 2021–22 Q2

  • In 2021–22 Q2 (baseline quarter), over a third (37%) of NDIS participants aged 15–64 reported that they felt able to advocate for themselves.
  • The proportion in 2021–22 Q2 was 4 percentage points lower than in 2018–19 Q2 (41%).
  • The overall trend for the period leading up to the baseline (2018–19 Q2 to 2021–22 Q2) was unfavourable, trending downward (Figure 4.8). Fitting a regression model to the data shows a modelled decrease of 0.3 of a percentage point per quarter and a modelled decrease of 9.1% over the reference period.
  • In 2021–22 Q2, a slightly higher proportion of female than male NDIS participants reported feeling able to advocate for themselves (39% and 36%, respectively).
  • By age group, the proportion of NDIS participants aged 25–64 who reported feeling able to advocate for themselves was nearly double that for those aged 15–24 (43% and 23%, respectively).

Latest results: 2021–22 Q3 and Q4

  • In 2021–22 Q4, 37.2% of NDIS participants aged 15–64 responded that they felt able to advocate for themselves. There was a very small decrease of 0.1 of a percentage point since baseline (2021–22 Q2) (37.3%), indicating no change since the Strategy began.
  • The small decrease since baseline occurred in 2021–22 Q4 as there was no change in 2021–22 Q3. The small decrease is the same as that seen in 2021–22 Q2 (baseline). In 2021–22 Q1, there had been a small increase (0.1 of a percentage point).
  • The observed decrease in 2021–22 Q4 was smaller than the modelled quarterly decrease (0.2 of a percentage point) over the period 2018–19 Q2 to 2021–22 Q4.

Things to consider when interpreting results

  • Time series analysis for the NDIS data presented here provides a series of data points each representing a snapshot of NDIS participants at a given point in time. This is different from the longitudinal approach taken in NDIS reporting.

Latest results: 37.2% (2021–22 Q4)

Baseline: 37.3% (2021–22 Q2)

Progress status (preliminary): No change

Figure 4.8: Proportion of NDIS participants aged 15–64 who feel able to advocate (stand up) for themselves, 2018–19 Q2 to 2020–22 Q4

These data show the proportion of NDIS participants (aged 15–64) who feel able to advocate (stand up) for themselves. Data from 2018–19 Q2 to 2021–22 Q4 are used. In 2021–22 Q4, 37.2% of NDIS participants felt able to advocate for themselves, compared with 41.3% in 2018–19 Q2.

Source: National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) – Business Systems | Data source overview

For more information on this measure, including breakdowns of the data, see Australia’s Disability Strategy Outcomes Framework | NDIS participants capacity to self-advocate.

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