Disability groups welcome royal commission extension
18 May 2021 at 8:19 am
“We are very pleased that the voices of people with disability have been heard on this issue”
The Morrison government has announced it is extending the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability by 17 months, following strong campaigning from the sector.
This extension – which pushes the final commission reporting date to 29 September 2023 – was first requested by inquiry chair Ronald Sackville AO QC amid the release of the interim report in November last year.
Sackville noted that the inquiry has been deeply affected by the lockdowns and other consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to fears there was not enough time left for the inquiry to conduct its investigations thoroughly.
In April, disability groups launched a campaign calling on the government to urgently grant this extension, following the Morrison government’s failure to respond to Sackville’s request.
The government formally accepted the request last Thursday, with Social Services Minister Anne Ruston noting this would “enable the government to receive and implement recommendations as expeditiously as possible”.
Sackville said he welcomed the decision.
“With the granting of this extension, it is now possible for the royal commission to discharge its considerable responsibilities to a standard that informed observers would regard as acceptable,” Sackville said.
“Along with arranging our public hearing schedule, we can organise private sessions with certainty, proceed with the royal commission’s research program and conduct a full range of engagement activities.”
People with Disability Australia CEO Sebastian Zagarella said the extension was a win for the disability community.
“We are very pleased that the voices of people with disability have been heard on this issue,” Zagarella said.
“Violence against people with disability is still endemic in Australia, and we now have the time we need to properly engage with the [inquiry] on the wide range of issues it still needs to investigate.”