The Equal Opportunity Commission welcomes Dr. John Byrne as Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity in Western Australia, with his 12 month appointment starting on Monday 05 December.
John has come from the Department of Parks and Wildlife where he was Director of Corporate Services. His role included him developing and implementing strategies aimed at improving the employment opportunities for Indigenous people. One initiative, a mentored Aboriginal employment and training scheme, was recognised with a Premier’s Award. He has also had a key role in improvements to access to parks and recreation facilities for people with mobility disabilities.
John has a disability. He has been profoundly deaf since he was a child, due to inheriting ostosclerosis, although he had normal hearing until he was eight years old.
He has been an advocate for people with disabilities for many years. He was one of the people in the 1980s who advocated the State’s Equal Opportunity Act 1984 be extended to include disability. He was an inaugural member of the Ministerial Advisory Council for Disability Services in 1991 and served a second term in 1999.
He has been a presenter at conferences and training sessions to develop strategies to improve employment of people with disabilities. He is also credited, on the website of the Australian Human Rights Commission, for the introduction of captioned movies in cinemas throughout Australia and was involved in the introduction of captioning of pay TV and an increase in the captioning of free to air TV.
“Although we have seen improvements in many areas, there are still large gaps and challenges to overcome in order to reach an inclusive community for all,” John said. “I am honoured to take up this role with the Equal Opportunity Commission, and am looking forward to continuing to find ways to increase equity in Western Australia.”
One of the first activities John Byrne will undertake as Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity will be to co-host a Youth Summit, together with the Youth Affairs Council of WA and the Commissioner for Children and Young People, to celebrate Human Rights Day on Monday 12 December titled ‘Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today’.