The highly anticipated draft Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into the violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability have been released by the Federal Government, a day later than expected.
Provided in both Easy Read and Auslan formats, the draft Terms of Reference were posted on the Department of Social Services’ Royal Commission landing page, detailing the scope, areas of focus and other considerations related to the much needed inquiry.
According to the draft Terms of Reference the Royal Commission will provide the opportunity to investigate all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability in all settings, but with a particular focus on what Governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent and respond.
The areas of focus of the inquiry will be on what Governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. It will also look at ways to encourage reporting and effective responses to these shocking instances and what should be done to promote a more inclusive society, which supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live in a safe and secure environment.
Other considerations highlighted in the draft Terms of Reference include:
All aspects of quality and safety of services, including informal supports, provided by governments, institutions and the community to people with disability.
That people with disability have specific needs, priorities and perspectives based on their personal circumstances. This might include their age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, intersex status or race, and acknowledges the particular situation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.
The critical role families, carers, advocates, the workforce and others play in providing care and support to people with disability.
Examples of good practice and innovative models of preventing and/or responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
The findings and recommendations of previous relevant reports and inquiries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed the Royal Commission will be fully funded by the Commonwealth.
Disability advocates have welcomed the release of the broad Terms of Reference.
“The wide scope will allow the Royal Commission to comprehensively inquire into all forms of violence and abuse across all settings, and consider how we can address the underlying causes of violence and abuse and promote a more inclusive society,” says Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin.
“I am pleased to see that the draft terms of reference empower the Royal Commission to establish accessible and appropriate arrangements for giving evidence and sharing information.
“I call on the Government to ensure the Royal Commission is adequately funded and resourced in the upcoming budget so it can meet all accessibility and support requirements of people with disability.
“It is vital that all people with disability are empowered to tell their stories and seek justice,” Mr McEwin says.
“We are pleased that the Government is commencing a consultation with people with disability on the Terms of Reference and has published detail on how the Royal Commission will be established and function,” Executive Director of Women With Disabilities Australia Carolyn Frohmader says.
“This Royal Commission must make itself accessible to all the places where people with disability live, work and play, including homes, schools, prisons, hospitals, mental health facilities as well as all disability support institutions and organisations.”
Co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of People with Disability Australia Matthew Bowden is seeking clear funding commitments to ensure people with disability are able to contribute to the inquiry.
“Our Royal Commission must have people with disability at its heart and the Terms of Reference and the selection of Commissioners must reflect that,” he says.
“We will also be looking for a dedicated line in this year’s Federal Budget to give concrete costings, and to make clear that appropriate supports will be funded for people to enable survivors of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation to meaningfully and safely engage in the Royal Commission.
“Providing a safe and accessible environment for people with disability, wherever they are, to engage with this process will ultimately shape the effectiveness of this Royal Commission,” Mr Bowden says.
CEO of First Peoples Disability Network Australia, Damian Griffis and CEO of National Ethnic Disability Alliance, Dwayne Cranfield highlight the need for accessible materials and support for people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability’s specific experiences and needs must take centre stage in this Royal Commission, including dedicated funding for our community to tell our stories and receive justice,” Mr Griffis says.
“We must make sure that people with disability from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have the appropriate support, including all materials being in community languages and interpreters made available, to fully participate in our Royal Commission,” Mr Cranfield explains.
Australian Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John commended the Government on ensuring the draft Terms of Reference were accessible.
“I’m actually very impressed they’ve provided the Terms of Reference in both Easy Read and Auslan - had they not we wouldn’t be off to a good start.”
The Government is now seeking feedback on the Terms of Reference until Thursday 28th March, to ensure it captures the issues that are important to people.
Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher says the consultation process gives an opportunity for people with disability, their families, carers, disability advocates and the broader community, to have their say on the scope of a Royal Commission.
“The Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission must clearly place people with disability at the centre.
“That is why it is now very important that we take the opportunity to consult more broadly with people with disability, their families and carers, and other stakeholders.”
You can complete the survey here.
To read the draft Terms of Reference, click here.