The Disability Royal Commission Interim Report, released on 30 October 2020, acknowledges and reflects the extremely important role of disability advocates and advocacy organisations in supporting people with disability to heard during the DRC processes. This is also evident in the numerous references to evidence given by advocates at hearings and advocacy organisations’ submissions throughout the lengthy document. “We have heard from many advocacy and representative organisations that increased advocacy is a key measure to address violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation and would lead to a more inclusive society. We have also heard that there is a lack of advocacy services, including for First Nations people with disability and people with complex needs, and that existing advocacy services are under-funded.” (page 18)
You may remember that DANA, with other National disability peak organisations, sent a joint letter in September to the Hon. Christian Porter MP to express concern about the lack of long-term legislative protections for confidentiality. The Attorney-General published a media release on 20 October announcing these amendments will be made, indicating that: “I have instructed my department to work swiftly on the amendments, with the aim of introducing in the Autumn sittings of 2021.” DANA has been hearing from advocates that this lack of assurance is adding uncertainty and complexity to the process of making submissions or deterring people from sharing their story.
The Disability Royal Commission public hearing in October was focused on Barriers to accessing a safe, quality and inclusive school education and life course impact. On the first day of the hearing Commissioners heard from a panel of representatives from advocacy organisations, with particular knowledge of education issues.