In a joint letter to the Hon. Christian Porter MP, we have called upon the Attorney-General to introduce legislation into the Australian Parliament to protect the confidentiality of information given to Disability Royal Commission. As it stands, a person providing information can only be guaranteed confidentiality after the Royal Commission concludes if their information was provided in a private session. If people make a written submission, it will currently only be confidential until the end of the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission held a public hearing in Sydney from Tuesday 18 to Friday 21 August 2020. The four days of hearings included appearances by advocates and representatives of advocacy organisations, and National peak disability representative organisations.
The Australian Government is leading the development of a new National Disability Strategy for beyond 2020. Commonwealth, state, territory and local governments across Australia are working together in consultation with people with disability, their families and carers, advocacy organisations, and peak bodies to develop the new Strategy.
Following the suffering and death of Ann Marie Smith, the South Australian Government Minister for Human Services established the Safeguarding Task Force.
Recommendation 7 of the Safeguarding Task Force report is that “the State government invests in individual advocacy to assist individuals with accessing what they need from the NDIS and from the community.”
The NDIA and Victorian Government must prioritise people with disability so they do not suffer in Stage 4 lockdowns. As the Victorian COVID-19 situation worsens and ‘a state of disaster’ is declared, children and adults with disability need to be a primary focus of government. We have already seen infections in group homes for people with disability, and significant impacts on their access to services and children’s right to education.
The next Disability Royal Commission (DRC) public hearing will investigate the experiences of people with disability during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.The Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said unless there are significant changes in circumstances, the hearing will take place in Sydney in August. ‘The hearing will gather evidence from people with disability, peak advocacy groups, public health and disability experts, as well as government representatives.’