DANA is very pleased the requested 17-month extension to the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability has been granted, as we have heard from many advocates the urgency for additional Time needed for people with disability to tell their stories, and we had joined with other organisations in campaigning for this extension.
The Final Report (from the DRC to the Governor-General) will now be due on 29 September 2023. According to the DRC, “the grant of an extension acknowledges the breadth of the Royal Commission’s responsibilities under its Terms of Reference and the significant and prolonged disruptions to the Commission’s program as a result of COVID-19.”
On the DRC website you can read the 13 May media release including quotes form the Chair of the Royal Commission, the Hon. Ronald Sackville AO QC, welcoming the decision.
DANA believes that, to truly reap the benefits of the substantial public investment in this historic Royal Commission, this full 17 month extension is essential. We have argued that this extension must include extended funding of DRC support services including individual and systemic advocacy and counselling (through Department of Social Services) and legal support (through the Attorney-General’s Department) for people who have experienced disability violence, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation. There are not yet any details or confirmation of extended funding for DRC support services.
We are hopeful that amendments to the Royal Commissions legislation will shortly be introduced to “Make It Safe to Speak”, by strengthening the confidentiality protections beyond the life of the DRC, as requested by the Royal Commission Chair in early 2020. According to advocates around Australia, this delay has been a significant barrier to engaging and supporting people with disability to tell their stories, safely and without fear.