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Royal Commission terms of reference released

21 March 2019 in Opinion, Social justice

Royal Commission terms of reference released

A broad and comprehensive list of the terms for the Royal Commission into disability has been released by the Australian Government.

The Commission will investigate violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher says the use of broad terms of reference is deliberate to ensure that they account for a greater number of people at risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

This investigation could also provide an outlet for more people to share their stories as the NDIS has allowed them to exercise choice over their care providers, meaning they no longer have to fear retribution for raising concerns.

“Through Royal Commissions into Institutional Abuse, Finance and Banking and most recently Aged Care, as a community we have been shocked and disgusted with what was learnt.  We have seen a light cast upon dark corners which has highlighted the abuse and distress people have experienced at the hands of perpetrators in power.

Importantly, we have also seen a community awakening and higher expectations by us all as citizens.  Now it is time for people with disability to share their story and for us as community to be outraged.  There has been enough examples of abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, now it is time for their experiences to be exposed and the distress replaced with a groundswell of positive change. ,” said CEO of Interchange, Justin O’Meara Smith.

The terms note that the Commission should look into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability “in all settings and contexts,” including disability support services, schools, workplaces, homes and hospitals.

The draft terms specifically require and authorise inquiry into: 

  • what governments, institutions and the community should do to prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation;
  • what governments, institutions and the community should do to achieve best practice to encourage reporting and effective responses to such conduct, including addressing failures in reporting, investigating and responding; and
  • what should be done to promote a more inclusive society which supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The terms also encourage consideration of:

all aspects of quality and safety of services, including informal supports, provided by governments, institutions and the community to people with disability;

  • the specific needs of people with disability and their personal circumstances;
  • the critical role families, carers, advocates, the workforce and others play in providing care and support to people with disability; and
  • examples of good practice and models of innovation.

Though funding is yet to be sourced, Minister Fletcher has said that this is unlikely to halt the process.

“We hope the government will fund this Commission as it’s crucial that we shine the spotlight of the negligence and mistreatment that can happen in our industry,” says Justin.

We would like to encourage you to provide feedback on the terms which can be found on the DSS website. Feedback will be open to all until the 28th March.

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