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The 2019 Disability Royal Commission progress report and what's happening in 2020

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Posted 2 months ago by Rebecca St Clair

[The Commissioners have been directed to inquire into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability] (Source: Shutterstock)
[The Commissioners have been directed to inquire into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability] (Source: Shutterstock)

The Royal Commission into the Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has this week released a new issues paper.

The new issues paper focuses on the criminal justice system and is the first for 2020. 

The paper is calling for responses about prisons and forensic mental health facilities where forced treatment, seclusion (solitary confinement) and other restrictive practices, such as physical, chemical and mechanical restraints may be used.

The release of the new issues paper on the criminal justice system follows the release of the health care for people with cognitive disability paper in December 2019 as well as the 2019 progress report. 

Progress report for 2019 and the pathway to 2020

2019 marked the establishment and first year of the Royal Commission. During this first year of the Royal Commission, they established the terms of reference as well as outlined the Royal commission process. They also held several hearings to hear evidence and to examine people with disabilities experiences.

  • 16 September 2019: The Royal Commission held its first public sitting in Brisbane on 16 September 2019. This hearing marked the official opening of the Royal Commission. This sitting of the Royal Commission outlined the process for submissions and ensuring that the Royal Commission is accessible to those with a disability. 

  • 4-7 November 2019: The Royal Commission held a hearing focused on education in Townsville, Queensland. The hearing examined current legislation, policies, practices, and the barriers faced by those with a disability in accessing inclusive education. 

  • 2-6 December 2019: The Royal Commission’s next hearing was held in Melbourne and focused on home and living. The hearing examined the experiences of people with disability living in group homes. 

The Royal Commission also undertook other activities throughout the year to help them understand violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability. 

  • The Royal Commission has held nine workshops across Australia. The workshops were held throughout June - October 2019. These workshops allowed participants to identify issues and communicate ideas, and information on specific topics affecting people with disability

  • The Royal Commission also held six community forums as at 13 December 2019 (1 in Townsville, 2 in Adelaide, 1 in Gawler and 2 in Hobart). These community forums allowed people to share their personal experiences and ideas.

  • As of 18 December 2019, the Royal Commission released three issues papers which focused on the themes of group homes, education and learning, and the health system. These issue paper help outline the Royal Commission’s preliminary understanding of issues. They also allow the public to comment on the Royal Commission’s understanding of these issues.

To read the full progress report released by the Royal Commission, click here.

What is expected to happen in 2020?

The Royal Commission will continue to conduct hearings, community forums, community engagement and release issues papers in 2020. 

From January 2020, the Royal Commission will hold private sessions around Australia. These private sessions enable the Royal Commission to hear directly from people with disability.

The Royal Commission will also launch its new website. It will feature a simplified, easier to use online submission form, new resources and an online ordering form for free print resources.

It is expected that by 30 October 2020, the Royal Commission will release their interim report. This report is a crucial milestone in the Royal Commission process and will detail their initial findings and recommendations. 

Public hearings in 2020 will focus on health, education, justice and issues faced by and experiences of First Nations people with disability,

The Royal Commission has made the full event schedule available for January - June 2020. 

You can view the full calendar of events on the Royal Commission’s website here.

The first hearing of 2020

The first public hearing of 2020 will run from 17 February until 28 February and will focus on health.  

It will look at the supply of health care or services for people with a cognitive disability, including people with intellectual disability, autism and acquired brain injuries.

The hearing is not limited to any State or Territory, but it will examine, in particular, the health system in New South Wales and 'promising practices' in the provision of health care or services.

Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC says the hearing is expected to gather evidence from people with cognitive disability, their families and supporters about their experiences in the health care system. 

He also adds ‘we may be investigating some cases where tragically people have died as a result of inadequate treatment through the health system

The deadline for responses to the health care for people with cognitive disability issues paper and the criminal justice issues paper is 20 March 2020, but responses will be accepted after that date.

Responding to an issues paper Responses to an issues paper can be provided 

  • Electronically to DRCEnqu[email protected] 

  • By post to GPO Box 1422, Brisbane, Queensland 4001

  • By phone on 1800 517 199 or +61 7 3734 1900 (between 9:00am to 6:00pm AEDT Monday to Friday). 

  • By audio or video recording

Responses to issue papers can be in any language as the Royal Commission will translate them. 

For our full guide to the Royal Commission process, click here.

Talking Disability will continue to cover the Disability Royal Commission in 2020 so remember to check out our website, Twitter, or Facebook for updates.

What do you want to see come out of the Royal Commission Interim Report? Leave a comment below.

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