The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has officially opened its public submissions.
The inquiry is fielding the lived experience of people with disability and hopes to uncover incidents of violence, neglect, abuse or exploitation of people with disability, understand the current complaints processes and outcomes, the lack of access to support or services, the quality of disability support services and examples of best practice and innovation.
The Government is also funding a legal advisory service and advocacy support for people who want assistance to make a submission, however, this support is not yet available.
The Commission will also be holding community forums across the country for people to hear about the work of the Commission and share ideas.
Executive Officer of the Physical Disability Council of NSW, Serena Ovens recognises the importance of the inquiry in providing people with disability an outlet to share their lived experience of trauma and injustice.
“It’s vitally important that people with disability get to tell their stories to the Royal Commission to allow them to be seen and heard as people whose lives are valued,” Ms Ovens says.
“For many their experiences of trauma are due to being ‘dehumanised’, institutionalised or marginalised by our society and not seen as worthwhile, contributing individuals.
“We would hope that by telling their story this allows them to begin to heal and be understood, but equally important that the broader community can consider the ways in which we treat people with disability, make changes to our systems to ensure the types of abuse perpetrated are never repeated, and we build better structures that include all people with disability as valued members of community.”
Senior Policy Officer at People with Disability Australia (PWDA), Dr Meg Clement-Couzner, says the organisation is pleased to see the submissions have been opened, however, believes there is a lack of support for people with disability looking to submit to the Commission.
“We are concerned that submissions have been opened with no supports in place for people with disability to talk about what has happened to them.
“It is critical that supports are available to us at all stages of this Royal Commission.”
She says PWDA urge the Commission to finalise these essential services as soon as possible.
“People with disability need to have legal and advocacy support, as well as the capacity for us to respond to the systemic issues that the Royal Commission will raise.”
The Royal Commission will be led by the Honourable Ronald Sackville AO QC and he will be supported by Ms Barbara Bennett PSM, Dr Rhonda Galbally AC, Ms Andrea Mason OAM, Mr Alastair McEwin and The Honourable John Ryan AM.
However, disability advocates have been calling for Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett to step down due to a conflict of interest.
The Royal Commission is expected to run for three years and will cost a record $527.9 million.
For more information you can visit the Royal Commission website here.