Disability Royal Commission welcomes new law to protect confidential information
Legislation has passed the Australian parliament today to protect confidential information provided to a Royal Commission beyond the life of the Royal Commission.
Chair of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC, has welcomed the passage of the Royal Commissions Amendment (Protection of Information) Bill 2021.
Amendments to the Royal Commissions Act 1902 were necessary to remove a significant barrier that has prevented people with disability, or people on their behalf, engaging with the Royal Commission.
The Chair requested amendments to the Royal Commissions Act 1902 in letters to the Prime Minister, the Honourable Scott Morrison MP, in February and September 2020. People with disability and disability advocates also requested the changes.
“It is timely on the day the Commission publishes the Fourth progress report demonstrating the considerable progress the commission has made over the six month period from 1 January to 30 June 2021, that we are able to welcome the passage of this legislation strengthening the protections for people with disability, or people on their behalf, to engage with the Royal Commission.
“Prior to the passage of this legislation, the Royal Commission could guarantee that information provided on a confidential basis outside of a private session would be protected during the term of our inquiry, but not beyond it,” he said.
“This included information provided on a confidential basis in submissions.
“With the passage of this amendment to the to the Royal Commissions Act 1902 the Royal Commission will now be able to guarantee the confidentiality of submissions and other sensitive information both during and beyond the term of our inquiry.
“As the Commission’s Fourth progress report demonstrates, people with disability or people on their behalf, have increasingly been sharing their story with the Royal Commission and the number of submissions received every six months has continued to grow reaching 2,639 as at 30 June 2021.
“We now encourage anyone who has had concerns about telling their story of violence against, and abuse, neglect or exploitation of, people with disability to contact the Royal Commission. This includes accounts of a person’s, or another person’s, experiences of systemic violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation.”
Submissions may be made to the Disability Royal Commission by telephone on 1800 517 199, via email at DRCEnquiries@royalcommission.gov.au, or through our website. Submissions can be made in any format, including video and artwork, and in any language.
Private session information is already protected during the life of the Royal Commission’s inquiry and when it is over.
The Royal Commission is due to hand down its final report in September 2023 after it received a 17-month extension earlier this year.