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Royal Commission releases first Progress Report

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has released a schedule of events for 2020 and a Progress Report explaining the work undertaken since it was formally established in April 2019.

The schedule for the first half of 2020 includes a hearing in western Sydney, New South Wales from 17 February to investigate the access to and treatment of people with cognitive disability in the health system.

Following our hearing in Townsville, Queensland this year, a subsequent hearing in Brisbane from 24 March, will look at the experiences of students with disability in the education sector.

We will investigate the experiences of people with disability in the justice system at a hearing in Brisbane, Queensland from 27 April.

The Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission direct us to pay particular attention to the experiences of First Nations people with disability.

To ensure we hear directly from First Nations people with disability about their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, we will conduct a hearing in the Northern Territory from 18 May.

Throughout 2020, the Royal Commission will continue community engagements to give people with disability the opportunity to share their personal experiences in a less formal environment.
In 2020, we will be visiting a number of locations including:

  • 4-5 February in Logan and Ipswich in Queensland
  • 17-18 March in Launceston and Burnie, Tasmania
  • 1-3 April in regional Victoria
  • 21-22 April in western Sydney, New South Wales

Releasing the schedule of events and the Progress Report, Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said the Royal Commission had undertaken a significant program of work since it was set up in April, including:

  • public hearing in Townsville, Queensland into inclusive education
  • public hearing Melbourne, Victoria into accommodation for people with disability, including group homes
  • 9 stakeholder and advocacy workshops across Australia
  • 6 community forums in Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia
  • Receiving more than 420 submissions from individuals and organisations
  • Responding to more than 2000 phone enquiries through its national hotline
  • Releasing 3 issues papers on key areas of investigation including education, accommodation and health (all available on the Royal Commission website).
  • Publishing an Accessibility and inclusion strategy which explains how the Royal Commission will fulfil its obligations in a way that is accessible and inclusive.

'The Royal Commission has already heard in public hearings and community forums many harrowing accounts of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

'We have also examined practices and policies that have the potential to protect and enhance the independence, inclusion and rights of people with disability.

'With the active participation of people with disability, advocates, and the disability community, the Royal Commission provides a genuine opportunity to bring about the transformational change necessary to achieve a more inclusive society.

'Such a society must unstintingly recognise the dignity, autonomy, equality and freedom of choice of people with disability.

'We are deeply conscious of the magnitude and complexity of the task we face. Even so, we embrace the challenge and are determined to meet it,' the Chair said.

The Royal Commission will continue publishing issues papers in 2020, to highlight broad thematic issues that fall within the terms of reference, and invite responses from individuals and organisations to provide guidance on key lines of inquiry to those making submissions.

In January, the Royal Commission will launch a new website, featuring a simplified, easier to use online submission form, new downloadable resources and an online ordering form for free print materials.