Close Search
 
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
News  |  Social AffairsDisability

Disability royal commission must be extended, advocates say


21 April 2021 at 1:09 pm
Luke Michael
An extension has already been backed by Labor and the Greens


Luke Michael | 21 April 2021 at 1:09 pm


1 Comments


 Print
Disability royal commission must be extended, advocates say
21 April 2021 at 1:09 pm

An extension has already been backed by Labor and the Greens

Disability groups have renewed calls for a 17-month extension to the disability royal commission, warning there is not enough time left for the inquiry to conduct its investigations thoroughly given the delays caused by COVID-19.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has launched a new campaign urging people to contact Attorney-General Michaelia Cash and ask for an inquiry extension, which would move the commission’s end date from April next year to 29 September 2023.

This request was first made by commission chair Ronald Sackville AO QC amid the release of the interim report in November last year.

The report noted that the inquiry has been deeply affected by the lockdowns and other consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with public hearings forced to be held online. 

It was revealed last month that the federal government was yet to respond to Sackville’s request, despite him writing two letters to the prime minister and attorney general emphasising the importance of an urgent response.

Labor MPs Bill Shorten and Mark Dreyfus have also written a letter to the prime minister and attorney general backing an extended inquiry, while Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John has repeatedly said an extension must be granted immediately.

PWDA CEO Sebastian Zagarella said there was too much at stake for the commission not to be extended.

“The commission has achieved a great deal in two years, but there have been significant delays due to COVID restrictions, and the sheer enormity of the task before them cannot be underestimated,” Zagarella said.

“The welfare and safety of the disability community depends on the commission having adequate time to conduct these investigations thoroughly.”

The inquiry has also been complicated by concerns around confidentiality of information provided to the commission.

Currently a person giving information can only be guaranteed confidentiality post-inquiry if this evidence was provided in a private session, but the federal government has vowed to amend this.

Zagarella notes that legislation to provide ongoing confidentiality is expected to be passed in May or June, when there is less than a year left on the commission’s current schedule.

He said he expected there to be an influx of submissions once the legislation is passed.

“People with disability want to tell their stories, but many are speaking out against abusers or organisations that still hold power over aspects of their lives,” he said.

“These protections are vital to peoples’ safety and security, and many have chosen to wait for the legislation to pass before making submissions.”

This campaign has been backed by Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) CEO Mary Mallett. 

She told Pro Bono News an extension must also come with ongoing funding for support services.

“To reap the benefits of the public investment already made in this historic royal commission, granting the requested extension of 17 months is absolutely essential,” Mallett said.

“It must also include funding for continued support services, including advocacy, counselling and legal support for people wishing to share their story.”

A spokesperson for the Attorney-General’s Department told Pro Bono News the federal government was “actively considering the request for an extension”.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

PB Careers
Get your biweekly dose of news, opinion and analysis to keep you up to date with what’s happening and why it matters for you, sent every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers? Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au or download our contributor guidelines.

Get more stories like this

FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

One comment

  • Avatar suzanne says:

    Even though I do not get paid for my part in advocating work I do see a need for this campaign that has been backed by Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) CEO Mary Mallett.
    Who told Pro Bono News an extension must also come with ongoing funding for support services?
    Why I say it should get it’s funding to continue supporting services, including advocacy, counselling and legal support is because about 27 years ago, I watched the government pulled the funding out of the disability advocacy services and nearly everyone just walked out the door and forgot about their commitments and I don’t want to see this happen again.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Advocates slam government’s claims of an NDIS cost blowout

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 12th May 2021 at 11:22 am

Advocates perplexed over government’s independent assessments plan

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 4th May 2021 at 5:07 pm

Disability advocates welcome move to pause independent assessments

Luke Michael

Thursday, 15th April 2021 at 5:19 pm

pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook
×