National Ethnic Disability Alliance

UN CRPD finds Australia in breach of human rights of woman with disability: NEDA shares recommendations on how to make our migration system fairer

Media Release

10 June 2021 

The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) is an international human rights treaty of the United Nations intended to protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.[1]
Earlier this year, the UN CRPD made a finding that Australia breached the human rights of Grainne Sherlock, a woman with disability, wanting to migrate to Australia.
In 2014, Ms Sherlock lodged a complaint with the UN CRPD after the Australian Government denied her a work sponsored visa: she was assessed as failing to meet ‘the health requirement’ due to her disability status. 
The UN CRPD assessed her individual complaint, and Australia was found to breach articles 4 (General Obligations), 5 (Equality and non-discrimination) and 18 (Liberty of Movement and Nationality) of the CRPD. 
This finding confirms that Grainne Sherlock was discriminated against by the Australian Government, and that Australia’s policy relating to the migration treatment of people with disability is discriminatory. 
Commenting on Ms Sherlock’s case, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance’s CEO, Dwayne Cranfield said: “Australia has a strong record of protecting civil rights, but sadly, serious human rights issues remain, especially for people with disabilities. Almost every Australian with a disability will encounter human rights violations at some point in their lives and many experience violations every single day.

As far as people with disability who want to migrate to Australia are concerned, on top of facing everyday human rights breaches, they typically experience discrimination and prejudice in our migration system that migrants without disability are not subject to.  The Australian Government needs to treat migrants with a disability fairly and with dignity and bring about changes to the migration system.”
In effect, major changes are needed to make the migration system in Australia fairer.
NEDA recommends that the Australian Government: 

  • Removes the exemption in the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) as it applies to the Migration Act to ensure that Australia’s migration arrangements and treatment of disability satisfy the equal protection obligations under CRPD Article 5.
  • Enhances consistency, transparency and administrative fairness for migrants and refugees with disability applying for an Australian visa. 

Additional resources

  1. More information on the discrimination faced by migrants and refugees with disability and further recommendations on how to make the Australian Migration system fairer is available in a factsheet by Disabled People’s Organisation Australia (DPOA). 


  1. In 2021, NEDA released factsheets in 5 different languages, to i) Explain the discrimination people with disability experience when navigating the complex Australian migration system, ii) break down the different processes a person with disability must go through when applying for a visa in Australia and iii) provide information to people with disability on where to find professional migration assistance and support. The factsheets are available on our website.

Media Contact
Hema Mangad
Phone: 042 2126 587


[1] Source – Wikipedia

Published by comms on Thu, 17/06/2021 – 11:30 am

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