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Royal Commission meets with First Nations people in Victoria

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation will today hold an online meeting with representatives from a range of First Nations organisations in Victoria.

The meeting hosted by the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC) will include representatives from:

  • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS)
  • Aboriginal Housing Victoria
  • Koori Youth Council
  • Djirra - Culture support program
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association (VACSAL)
  • Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. (VAEAI)
  • Federation of Traditional Owners
  • Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS)

Commissioner Andrea Mason OAM said today's meeting will provide an opportunity to share information about the Royal Commission and to hear about the central issues for First Nations people with disability living in Victoria.

'It is critical that we hear first-hand from people with disability about their experiences.'

'Before COVID-19 we travelled to a range of communities, including Palm Island, Cherbourg, Logan and Ipswich in Queensland and Darwin, Alice Springs and Papunya in the Northern Territory.'

'When it's safe to do so, we'll continue our schedule of community visits, so that we can get the information we need to make recommendations for change to prevent violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability,' said Commissioner Mason.

Today's meeting comes after the release of the First Nations People with Disability issues paper.

The issues paper invites First Nations people with disability, their families, communities and organisations share their insights and expertise with the Royal Commission.

Previous studies and inquiries have found that compared to the general population, First Nations people with disability are at greater risk of experiencing harm, including being more likely to:

  • have experienced threats of physical violence
  • have poorer health outcomes than other Australians with disability
  • have experienced problems accessing health services
  • have been removed and/or had relatives removed from their family
  • experience high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • be detained due to a cognitive disability, foetal alcohol syndrome or other disability
  • be reliant on government pensions or allowances as their main source of personal income and less likely to be studying and in jobs.

As well as responding to issues papers, people can share their story with the Royal Commission in any way they want, by phone, in writing or by making an audio or video recording.

People can also register for a private session, which allows people to share their experience with a Royal Commissioner in a confidential setting. It can be in person, via video conferencing or on the phone.