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Public hearing to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has announced a public hearing to examine the experiences of people with disability during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC said subject to any significant changes in circumstances, the hearing will take place in Sydney during the week commencing 17 August, 2020.

'The hearing is expected to gather evidence from people with disability, peak advocacy groups, public health and disability experts as well as government representatives.

'We will examine whether, in preparing for and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments and other entities adequately considered measures to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability.

'It is proposed that the hearing will also examine any systemic issues that may have arisen, or been exacerbated, during the pandemic,' said the Chair.

In April, the Royal Commission released an issues paper on Emergency Planning and Response which explored how people with disability can be severely affected by emergency situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The issues paper sought information from people with disability, their families, advocates and experts about their experiences. It also asked for feedback about what can be done to improve the safety and wellbeing of people with disability during emergencies like the pandemic.

The responses so far, cover a range of issues including accessibility of information, safeguarding and oversight practices, access to services and supports and the impacts of restrictions throughout the pandemic on people with disability.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the Royal Commission website and will feature live captioning and Auslan-English interpreters.

Auslan Video

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, people with disability have been telling us about a range of issues they’re experiencing. This includes a lack of access to information and various other barriers.

As a result, the Disability Royal Commission has announced the next public hearing will examine the experiences of people with disability during COVID-19.

This hearing will allow us to hear first-hand from the disability sector.

The information we gather will help us understand how we can improve the safety and wellbeing of people with disability during emergencies.

The Chair of the Royal Commission Ronald Sackville said if things continue as they are the hearing will take place in the week of 17 August.

The hearing will be streamed on-line with Auslan and captioning available.

There is more information on our media release available on our website.