‘A real step towards justice’: Disability groups welcome royal commission
Friday, 5th April 2019 at 2:32 pm
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has officially launched the disability royal commission, kicking off a three-year inquiry that will examine the violence and abuse of people with disability in all settings.
The commission will be based in Brisbane and led by former Federal Court judge Ronald Sackville AO QC, along with five other commissioners.
In an emotional speech, Morrison dedicated the inquiry to all Australians living with disability, including his brother-in-law Gary Warren, who has multiple sclerosis.
The prime minister said the nation needed to establish a culture of respect for people with disability and the families who support, love and care for them.
Violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people living with a disability is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. It must be acknowledged, confronted and dealt with. That’s why today I’ve announced a Royal Commission into the abuse of Australians living with a disability. pic.twitter.com/M0pFPhg54F
— Scott Morrison (@ScottMorrisonMP) April 4, 2019
“The royal commission will inquire into all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. It will cover all settings in which these abuses occur,” Morrison said.
“To all those Australians with a disability, their families, to Gary, this is for you.”
In this week’s federal budget, the government pledged $528 million for the commission, including $379 million to run the inquiry and $149 million to provide counselling and support services.
Morrison said the high cost of this inquiry – making it the most expensive royal commission to date – reflected the additional resources needed so people with disability across Australia could give evidence.
“I want to stress this will be very hard for people to come and engage with this, just as it has been in previous commissions of this nature,” he said.
“And it’s not just about getting people to the [microphone], it’s about supporting them afterwards and before as well, and this budget builds that in.”
Disability groups welcomed the announcement as a “real step towards justice”, and were particularly pleased the inquiry will cover all people with disability, in all settings and contexts.
“We are glad to hear that there will be $100 million for advocacy and supports, and we are looking forward to seeing the terms of reference in full,” Carolyn Frohmader, executive director of Women with Disabilities Australia said.
Damian Griffis, CEO of First Peoples Disability Network, said it was very positive that hearings will take place around the country.
“Our people have much higher rates of disability than the general population, and we’re particularly keen to be able to tell our stories and see some healing. The royal commission will start to provide that,” Griffis said.
.@ljayes: On the Disability Commission, the govt has allocated $527M, Labor has only allocated $26M. Will Labor match the govt? @AlboMP: Of course we’ll fund the Disability Royal Commission. We were the ones that called for it.
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) April 4, 2019
Disability groups also acknowledged the consultation run by the government in the lead up to the announcement.
The commission’s draft terms of reference attracted 3,700 responses, a third of which came from people with disability.
“We are also happy to see the commitment of states and territories to this process,” Dwayne Cranfield, the CEO of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance said.
Sackville’s supporting commissioners will be Rhonda Galbally AC, Andrea Mason OAM, John Ryan AM, Barbara Bennett PSM and Alastair McEwin – who will step down as disability discrimination commissioner to take the role.
Matthew Bowden, co-CEO of People with Disability Australia, congratulated the appointed commissioners.
“[We] look forward to working with the newly announced commissioners to ensure our strong disability and human rights expertise is utilised,” Bowden said.
The royal commission is expected to release an interim report by the end of October 2020. The final report is due April 2022.
If you or someone you know is in need of support, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. The royal commission also has a temporary hotline number on 1800 880 052 Monday to Friday from 9am to 7pm AEST.