Royal Commission Interim Report update
Achieve Australia continues to support the work of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, and we applaud all those coming forward to share their experiences.
Since the Royal Commission began its work in April 2019, its seven Commissioners have received more than 1,600 submissions and by the end of 2020, will have held ten public hearings.
There is still a long way to go and due to the enormity of the task, Chair Mr Ronald Sackville AO has asked that the Royal Commission’s timeline be extended by more than a year.
The Commission is looking back through time at how people with disability have been treated in Australia as well as at present day and into the future and what needs to be done to create a robust system of support. This includes an examination of the NDIS but also of our sector.
There will be times when Achieve Australia contributes directly to the work of the Royal Commission. For example, the Royal Commission’s schedule of public hearings in Sydney over 2021 includes the areas of the NDIS, disability service providers and disability workforce issues.
We are interested in contributing in all these areas. Achieve Australia is also part of the submission being prepared by the sector-wide Alliance20 group.
In October, the Royal Commission delivered a 561-page Interim Report and we read it with both great interest and sorrow. Some 36 of the many heart-breaking stories the Commission has heard about people with disability suffering at the hands of doctors, teachers, service providers, the justice system and the NDIS are included in the report.
Some of these stories come directly from people with disability while others were told by family members, carers or the staff of various services. It is so important people with disability and those that support them can speak out and be truly listened to and that action and justice follows where it should.
The report also has a section looking at the common themes that have emerged that the seven Commissioners regard as important to keeping people with disability safe, well supported and able to experience true inclusion. We would agree with them.
These include choice and control, attitudes towards disability, segregation and exclusion, restrictive practices, access to services and supports, advocacy and representation, oversight and complaints, and funding.
In the longer term, the Commission is expected to recommend changes to laws and government policies. We support the need for policy makers, the NDIA, our sector and society more broadly to be part of efforts to ensure people with disability can live as fully as possible while safe and respected.
As the Commission continues its work, we can expect to hear more stories about the darker corners of our sector. We will not shy away from what the Commission finds.
In the meantime, Achieve Australia remains committed to delivering on our Strategic Plan to provide more training to our staff and support research and scholarship that will ensure we continue to model service excellence and to bring inclusion to life for the people we support.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability released its Interim Report in October 2020.
Find the full report, a summary report and an Easy Read version online at disability.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/interim-report
The report includes many distressing stories about the harm people with disability have experienced. In recognition of how hard these real-life stories can be to read, the report lists free support services available from the Blue Knot Foundation.
Blue Knot offers support through telephone, video conferencing, webchat and SMS.
Telephone Blue Knot on 1800 421 468 between 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday or until 5pm on weekends. For more information, visit blueknot.org.au
Royal Commission timeline
- The Commission started work in April 2019. The first public hearing was held in Brisbane on 16 September 2019.
- Public hearings each have a different focus. To date public hearings have been held to understand the experiences of people with disability across education, medical services, support services, for First Australians, people from diverse cultural and language backgrounds.
- Future hearings will also seek to understand the experiences of people with disability across employment, with the NDIS and to understand the disability workforce.
- Progress reports were published in December 2019 and August 2020 and an Interim Report in October 2020.
- Public hearings have been held around Australia but were moved online earlier this year due to COVID-19.
- The Commission has received more than 1,600 submissions, published nine issues papers and an Interim Report and managed more than 6,000 phone enquires.
- In October 2020 Chair Mr Ronald Sackville asked the Prime Minister to extend the Royal Commission’s timeline beyond the original end date of April 2022 to September 2023.
- Public hearings in 2021 will be held in February, April, May June, July, August September, November and December.