By Samantha Donovan
Deaf Society president Alastair McEwin will take up the role as Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission in late July, filling the vacancy left by Graeme Innes in mid-2014.
- Alastair McEwin appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner
- Advocates pleased to have a full time Commissioner who has a disability
- Dr Kaye Patterson is new Age Discrimination Commissioner, and Edward Santow appointed as a commissioner
He takes the reins from Susan Ryan, who has been juggling the role along with that of Age Discrimination Commissioner since the departure of Mr Innes nearly two years ago.
While disability advocates have respected her work, they have wanted someone with a disability in the role as a full-time commissioner.
As well as his role at the Deaf Society, Mr McEwin is the chairman of the Disability Council of NSW. He is profoundly deaf.
He said the appointment was “an incredible honour.”
“I’ve been born with a disability and I’ve lived with a disability all my life. So this is a humbling thing to be able to be the national advocate for all people with a disability,” Mr McEwin said.
The successful implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme will be one of his key priorities over the coming years.
“My mandate is to make sure that it fulfils its aims of making sure that people with disability, no matter where they are, can be active members of the community.
“We still have a long way to go in recognising the human rights of all people with disabilities, and I look forward to working with the government, the disability sector and the human rights commission to realise equity for all people with disability.”
Mr McEwin is also a former chief executive officer of People with Disability Australia and a former manager of the Australian Centre for Disability Law.
His predecessor as Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Innes, is blind. He said he was excited by Mr McEwin’s appointment.
“He is a very effective advocate, he is a strategic operator and has a real depth of understanding of the disability sector and he will do a great job in this role,” Mr Innes said.