Skip to main content

First Nations people with disability encouraged to share their stories

Commissioner Andrea Mason OAM is urging First Nations people with disability to share their stories with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Commissioner Mason, a Ngaanyatjarra and Kronie woman, said the Royal Commission will shine a much needed spotlight on the abuse of people with disability.

'The most important part of this Royal Commission is to hear the personal stories of people with disability. As a country, we need to listen to those stories and use them as the vehicle for significant change.

'It's vital the voices of First Nations people are heard across all areas of the Royal Commission and that their experiences are embedded in hearings, submissions and community forums.

'I want to reassure all First Nations people with disability, their families, carers and advocates that this Royal Commission, with all of its powers and protections, is a safe place for people to speak their truth,' Commissioner Mason said.

First Nations people have substantially higher rates of disability than the general Australian population.

It's estimated that seven-point-three per cent of First Nations people, or around 60,000 people, have a severe or profound disability compared with 5.8 per cent in the wider Australian community.

'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have an important story to tell about how we create a more inclusive society, that supports the independence of people with disability and ensures they live free of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

'Prior to European contact in Australia, our operating rhythm, was always about people being included in our society. Aboriginal people didn't have a word for disability because we always looked at the unique human ability of that person and then included them because of that uniqueness.

'This culture of inclusion and what it means not only to our people, but also to this country, will make a difference to the lives of all Australians with disability,' Commissioner Mason said.

Commissioner Mason will be in Alice Springs on November 28 and available for interviews.