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To truly reap the benefits of the substantial public investment in this historic Royal Commission, granting the requested 17 month extension is essential. This extension must include extended funding of DRC support services including individual and systemic advocacy and counselling (through DSS) and legal support (through the Attorney-General’s Department) for people who have experienced disability violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation.
We urge the Commonwealth Government to ensure that Australians with disability have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
The Disability Royal Commission has been running for almost two years (of a three-year Royal Commission) without proper protections in place for survivors and witnesses to tell their stories. As it stands, people who provide information in a private session can have their privacy protected, but anyone providing written submissions to the Disability Royal Commission is only guaranteed confidentiality until the Royal Commission concludes in April next year. For many survivors and witnesses, this a barrier to telling their story.
AdvoKit is here to help people get the advocacy resources they need to support people with disability during the pandemic and beyond. The final AdvoKit Newsletter of 2020 includes lots of info about vaccines and vaccinations and what we know about when and how they will work in Australia, plus more.
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.