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DW calls for restoration of disabled people’s rights

Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes

Following the recent UN condemnation of UK Government policy on the lives of disabled people as ‘a human catastrophe’, Disability Wales is hosting a national conference today in Merthyr Tydfil calling for full restoration of disabled people’s rights.

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive Disability Wales states:

“UK Government’s austerity measures have left thousands of disabled people in poverty, vilified in the media and tragically all too many deaths from suicide. The UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities condemned UK Government’s ‘grave and systematic violations’ of Convention rights regarding independent living, employment and adequate standard of living. Even so their findings and recommendations were dismissed by the Government.”

Wales has the UK’s highest rate of disability at 26 per cent, and some of the highest levels of poverty and numbers of benefit claimantsResearch shows that people living in deprived areas and working in routine occupations are more likely to be disabled. The disability employment gap in Wales is 36% compared with 32% across the UK.

Much of the responsibility for fulfilling disabled people’s rights under the UN Convention is devolved to Welsh Government. Over the last year, Disability Wales has been actively involved in Welsh Government’s review of the Framework for Action on Independent Living (2013).

The outcome from engagement with disabled people across Wales regarding both the Independent Living Review and the UN Committee on the Rights of Disabled People Examination confirmed increased poverty following UKG’s welfare reforms and that considerably more progress is required regarding access to information and advice, personal support, housing, the built environment, transport, education, skills and employment opportunities.

Disability Wales’s Annual Conference Defending our Rights: Challenging Attitudes provides a platform to consider the evidence and identify actions, tools and opportunities to adopt a more progressive approach to tackling barriers to independent living and achieving disabled people’s human rights.

The keynote address will be delivered by Carl Sargeant AM, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children whose portfolio includes Equality, UN Conventions and responsibility for the Framework for Action on Independent Living.

Conference delegates will also hear from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on their approach to tackling the discrimination faced by disabled people.  Ruth Coombs, EHRC’s Head of Wales states:

“Our ‘Being Disabled in Britain’ report shows that disabled people in Wales and across Britain are being left behind. The evidence can no longer be ignored. There must be a concerted effort to deliver the changes that are needed.

“The changes that we need to see include reducing the education and employment gaps for disabled people, ensuring that essential services such as housing, health and transport meet the needs of disabled people,  and increasing the number of disabled people in public appointments and politics.”

Tara Flood, Director of the Alliance for Inclusive Education and prominent disabled activist will share her vast experience of campaigning for the rights of disabled children and young people.

The event will be chaired and facilitated by Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales. Questions to the panel and round-table discussions will provide an opportunity for lively debate.

The audience includes disabled people and their allies, representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations, third sector and both local and national government bodies.