Director Engagement of UNSW’s Disability Innovation Institute Rosemary Kayess has been elected to Vice Chair of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Her appointment to the position on the prestigious committee, which monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, took place at the UN in Geneva on Monday.

"I’m honoured to be appointed to the executive of the committee and look forward to the opportunity to bring my legal and public policy knowledge to promote the rights of people with disability,” Ms Kayess says.

Ms Kayess is also a Senior Research Fellow at the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and this vice chair appointment follows her election to the UN committee last year.

Professor Karen Fisher, who leads the SPRC Disability Research Program, says Ms Kayess’s rapid appointment to the position recognises her unique expertise from her academic and community positions in Australia and internationally.

“It is unusual to find someone with such in-depth knowledge of the human rights of people with disability, from her profile on the international stage and her grassroots connections in Australia through to her theorisation of these human rights in her significant international writing,” Professor Fisher says.

“Her appointment will throw a brighter spotlight on the profile of Australian human rights.”

An internationally respected lawyer, researcher and academic, Ms Kayess is also a Visiting Fellow at UNSW Law.

She is Chair of the Australian Centre for Disability Law and is one of the driving forces behind UNSW’s Disability Innovation Institute, a ground-breaking initiative to help transform the lives of people with disability by harnessing research and innovation across all faculties and disciplines.

Her research and advocacy include access to justice, social inclusion, housing and employment.

By Diane Nazaroff