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  • Writer's pictureFuture Shakers Insights

Royal Commission hands down historic roadmap for disability related policy reform

Official banner of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

Stronger Ground, Future Shakers’ event producer is a disability-led enterprise, and today is a historic day for us, marking the release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

As a disabled person, autistic and living with complex musculoskeletal injuries from birth and infancy, and as an advocate for my autistic and mentally unwell sister, I've been working to overcome violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation in health care and disability support settings for many years.

Existing regulatory settings under the Police, the Courts system, NDIS Commission, NCAT, HCCC, the NSW Official Visitor, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, and the Civil and Administrative Tribunal haven't offered appropriately timely, proportionate, or responsive safeguards against human rights abuses, violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation or fraud with devastating and traumatising consequences.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability heard from 837 witnesses, 7944 public submissions, and 1785 private sessions were held with disabled people, their loved ones, and their advocates, and they have been very clear in their findings that the current legislative and regulatory frameworks around safety and quality of health care and care are simply not protecting people from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. This needs to change.

Recommendations in the final report include:
- The introduction of an Australian Disability Rights Act to strengthen protection of the rights of people with disability and meet Australia’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- A new Australian Government portfolio specifically responsible for disability, a new Minister for Disability Inclusion and a new Department of Disability Equality and Inclusion responsible for national leadership on relevant policies and programs
- A new National Disability Commission as an independent statutory authority
- Nationally-consistent adult safeguarding laws, community visitor schemes, and an independent one-stop shop in each state and territory for reporting complaints, referrals and support.

This is such good news, as there's every grounded hope that the recommendations of the Royal Commission will be appropriately considered and we can gradually transition towards a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, and bring on a more independent, good faith and diligent safety, quality and human rights focussed regulatory system that has real power to protect people from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

I look forward to digesting the report in more depth over the weekend and dearly hope that this important review catalyses more of the kind of change disabled people sorely need.

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