Current flows at first Disability Council event

In an event described as an important first for the Australian Church, the inaugural meeting of the Australian Catholic Disability Council has taken place in Sydney last week as Caritas calls on the Government to tackle discrimination against disabled people.

The new Council, which was formed as part of the restructure of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), is responsible for advising the bishops in the promotion of full participation of people with disability and their families in the life of the Church, an ACBC statement says.

Members of the Commission are Ms Philomena Billington, Dr Lisa Bridle, Council Chair Ms Michele Castagna, Good Samaritan Sr Jeanie Heininger, Mr Glenn Mowbray and Mr Anthony Succar.

Bishop Max Davis, the bishops' Delegate for Disability Issues, and Mrs Patricia Mowbray, Disability Projects Officer, are ex officio members of the Council, according to the statement.

Ms Castagna said the Council would seek to develop national policies and guidelines that relate to the full participation of people with disability as well as advocacy in support of people with disability.

"The Council believes that its formation is a celebration and expression of the prophetic voice of Jesus in the Catholic Church in Australia," Ms Castagna said.

She says that the formation of the Council is an opportunity to promote the building of a "truly inclusive Body of Christ where all are welcomed and included."

"We believe that this initiative will also be a vehicle for healing and an opportunity to welcome back those who have felt isolated and distant from the Church," he says.

Australia drops ball on disability: Caritas

Meanwhile, Caritas Australia CEO Jack de Groot says that the Australian Government has dropped the ball on the link between disabilities and development.

According to Mr de Groot, 70 per cent of the people with disabilities live in the developing world, and 82 per cent of them live below the poverty line.

"The statistics are staggering and yet the recent aid white paper failed to include any mention at all of how we support the disabled," Mr de Groot said in a Caritas statement on the eve of the launch of the Access for all: Disability and Development, exhibition held by the Australia Disability and Development Consortium at the Australian Parliament House, Canberra.

"Australia needs to be at the vanguard of supporting those with disabilities by signing the UN Convention on the Rights and Dignities of Persons with Disabilities".

The Convention supporting people with a disability, adopted by the UN General Assembly last year, is due to be signed on 30 March.

"We are calling on the Australian Government to show some leadership on this issue and be one of the first countries to sign onto this groundbreaking convention supporting the rights of those with disabilities", Mr de Groot said.

"Disability is both a cause and a consequence of poverty. Eliminating world poverty will not be achieved unless the rights and needs of people with disabilities is taken into account".

Australian Catholic Disability Council meets in important first for the Church (ACBC, Media Release, 23/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Disability stories seek to avoid tragedy of exclusion (CathNews, 5/12/06)
Bishop seeking "good news" on gifts of disabled (CathNews, 4/7/06)

26 Feb 2007

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