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Draft terms of reference released for disability royal commission


Disability service providers are likely to fall under the spotlight of the proposed royal commission, according to draft terms of reference released by the government.

The draft terms of reference released on Wednesday set the scope for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability which will focus on what governments, institutions and the community can do to protect people disability, encourage reporting of abuse and promote a safer and more inclusive society.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government would fully fund the inquiry, which did not have a historical time limit on past experiences.

“This royal commission into disabilities is focused on people with disabilities, it’s focused on how they have been mistreated, abused, not respected, been held back, not been able to realise their opportunities to live full and complete lives in this country,” he told reporters  in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The peak disability sector organisation National Disability Services (NDS) encouraged members to provide feedback on the draft terms.

“NDS … will be encouraging our members to engage in the process of feedback on the terms of reference released today, as well as to respond promptly to all request from the Commission once it’s established,” CEO David Moody said.

Under the draft terms the inquiry will consider

  • Quality and safety of services
  • Specific needs of people with disability
  • The role of families, carers, advocates and the workforce
  • Examples of good practice and innovative models

What about redress, says advocate

However Greens disability rights spokesman Senator Jordon Steele-John, a leading disability advocate and one of the driving forces behind the royal commission,  has criticised the draft saying important elements including the matter of redress for survivors of abuse, have been missed out.

Senator Jordon Steele-John

Senator Steele-John says he had expected redress for survivors of abuse and neglect to be included in the draft terms  as it had been for the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

“A clear pathway forward for survivors of violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect must be included in any Royal Commission including prosecution, investigation and most importantly, redress,” he said.

He also called on the government to commit to covering the full cost of the investigation in the budget so it can get underway before the election is called, and when the government will move into caretaker mode.

Consumer advocacy group People with Disability welcomed the release of the draft terms of reference.

“Our Royal Commission must have people with disability at its heart and the terms of reference and the selection of Commissioners must reflect that,” said co-CEO Matthew Bowden.

He said the organisation wants to see dedicated funding in the budget to help survivers of abuse neglect and violence, as well as people with disability from marginal groups,  engage with the inquiry.

Consultation begins

Paul Fletcher

Paul Fletcher

The government will now begin the consultation process, Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher said.

“The Terms of Reference for a Royal Commission must clearly place people with disability at the centre.

“We are working methodically through the necessary steps so that we can be in a position in coming weeks to seek the Governor General’s approval to establish a Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.”

The states and territories have provided in principle support for a Royal Commission, he said.

Stakeholders and members of the public can provide feedback on the draft document until March 28 and the government will seek approval from the Governor General to establish a royal commission after the public consultation is over.

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