This week we celebrate International Day of People with Disability.
As the NDIS Review is getting underway, we would like to pay tribute to all the disability advocates and reformers who have come before us and on whose shoulders this Review stands.
It is too easy to forget the past, when focused on the road and opportunities ahead. But to ignore the past is to risk reliving its mistakes and not learning from its successes.
The Review timetable is short and so as we go forward we are also looking back to learn, build and deliver.
1981 was the first year of the United Nations’ International Year of Disabled Persons and was a turning point for Australians with disability.
One very important person who led the way was Elizabeth Hastings.
Elizabeth was the Commissioner of the original Commonwealth Human Rights Commission between 1981 and 1986, and in 1992 became Australia’s first Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
Elizabeth presided over numerous cases and worked to ensure that the continuous process of 'breaking down the barriers' was not ignored.
Elizabeth is sadly no longer with us and we regret that we never met her, but she will be forever regarded as a pioneer for human rights.
Elizabeth’s work is particularly important as the Review aims to put people with disability back at the centre of the NDIS and seeks to restore trust, confidence and pride in the NDIS.
Today we salute, remember and promise to learn from Elizabeth and all the other great pioneers and advocates for disability reform.