A UNSW academic and disability advocate who helped draft the text of a UN treaty on disability rights today said Australia's ratification of the treaty could lead to a new era of equality for Australians with disability.

"The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides a stronger framework towards achieving equality in areas like access, education and employment," said Ms Rosemary Kayess, Acting Director of the Disability Studies and Research Centre (DSARC), University of New South Wales.

"By ratifying the Convention, the Australian Government has signalled a greater commitment to recognising the rights of people with disability to participate fully in our society," she said.

"The Convention provides disability organisations with a tool to push for truly inclusive education, full access to employment and resources to fill the gaps in support services," Ms Kayess said.

From 2003 to 2006 Ms Kayess, a human rights lawyer, was a member of the Australian delegation to the United Nations committee that negotiated the text of the international treaty that sets out the fundamental human rights of people with disability.

The Australian government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, 17 July, 2008.

"The negotiation process involved unprecedented involvement by people with disabilities both through consultation locally and representation in New York," Ms Kayess said. "People with disabilities should be proud of this significant achievement as it reflects their drive and commitment to ensure their rights.

"Ratification means Australia can seek membership of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that will oversee the Convention's implementation," she said.

"Members of the disability community can now look forward to actively engaging with the government on implementation of the Convention," Ms Kayess said.

Contact: Ms Rosemary Kayess, Acting Director, Disability Studies and Research Centre | 02 9385 2449 | 0402 040 586 | r.kayess@unsw.edu.au