Landmark legislation protecting the rights of the estimated 191,000 Western Australians with some form of disability, has passed through both houses of State Parliament.
Disability Services Minister Eric Ripper said today the historic Disability Services Bill 1992 - the first legislation of its type in this State - completed its Parliamentary passage at 5.30 am today.
Mr Ripper said the legislation marked the start of a new era in the recognition of the needs, rights and achievements of the estimated one-in-eight Western Australians with disabilities.
"I commend the bipartisan political support and the enthusiastic work of the peak disability service organisations - such as ACROD, the Developmental Disability Council (DDC) and People With Disabilities (PWD) - which has led to this significant legislative milestone," the Minister said.
The passage through Parliament ends nearly three years of exhaustive community consultation and development of the Bill, which was based on the policy 'A Fair Go for Everyone': Disability Policy for Western Australia.
"This legislation is a strong statement of the value and importance the Government and people of this State place on the lives of Western Australians with disabilities and the opportunities available to them. It is the first time in this State's history that the rights of all Western Australians with disabilities, and the principles by which services are delivered to them, have been enshrined in legislation."
Key elements of the legislation included:
· the requirement that Government bodies and Government funded agencies report to Parliament on moves being taken to support the needs and rights of people with disabilities;
· a statement that services should be flexible, adaptable and should recognise the broad diversity of disabilities and the diverse range and needs of people with disabilities;
· a conciliation and review process which provided avenues for the resolution of complaints, by people with disabilities, about services specifically for them.
Mr Ripper said the passing of the State legislation was an important step towards finalising the Commonwealth/State Disability Services Agreement. Under this agreement, the administration and funding of all services for people with disabilities, except employment services, would be transferred to the State.