The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has announced a public hearing to examine the experiences of people with disability during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Royal Commission originally indefinitely suspended all public hearings and face to face activities in March due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
The Chair of the Commission, Ronald Sackville AO QC, says that subject to any significant changes in circumstances, the hearing into the impact of COVID-19 will take place in Sydney during the week commencing 17 August, 2020.
Mr Sackville says that the hearing will examine the response to COVID-19 and any systemic issues that have been impacting people with disability.
“The hearing is expected to gather evidence from people with disability, peak advocacy groups, public health and disability experts as well as Government representatives.
“We will examine whether, in preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments and other entities adequately considered measures to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.
"It is proposed that the hearing will also examine any systemic issues that may have arisen, or been exacerbated, during the pandemic.”
In April, the Royal Commission released an issues paper on Emergency Planning and Response which explored how people with disability can be severely affected by emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic and bush fires.
The issues paper sought information from people with disability, their families, advocates and experts about their experiences.
It also asked for feedback about what can be done to improve the safety and wellbeing of people with disability during emergencies.
The responses received so far cover a range of issues, including the accessibility of information, safeguarding and oversight practices, access to services and supports and the impacts of restrictions throughout the pandemic on people with disability.
The public hearing will be livestreamed on the Royal Commission website and will feature live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.
For the latest updates on how COVID-19 is impacting the disability sector visit our dedicated COVID-19 information page.
What has your experience been with COVID-19? Tell us in the comments below or send an email to [email protected].