Disability Royal Commission begins talks with First Nations groups

The Disability Royal Commission is conducting preliminary consultations with different areas of the disability community in a series of workshops around Australia.

On Tuesday 6 August 2019, Commissioner Andrea Mason facilitated the sixth workshop, and the first workshop to be held with First Nations peoples, in Sydney.

Opening the workshop, Chair of the Disability Royal Commission, the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC, noted that First Nations People with disability experience physical violence and other forms of abuse at a much higher rate than non-Indigenous people with disability.

Image of workshop attendees around a table. 

"First Nations people with disability are especially vulnerable to abuse in its many forms. This can cut across different areas of people's lives, including health, education, justice, economic agency and housing.

"For example, First Nations people with severe disability are twice as likely to experience homelessness as First Nations people without a disability, and are three times more likely to have trouble finding a place to live because of violence, abuse or neglect."

Commissioner Mason said the purpose of the workshops was to give the Disability Royal Commission the opportunity to talk with community leaders, Elders and key advocates about issues the Commission should be giving early attention to. 

The workshop was attended by more than 20 participants. Importantly, the majority were First Nations People with disability who spoke strongly about their experiences across a number of areas including ableism, racism, discrimination and racial stereotyping. There was also a clear expectation expressed that the Commission must prioritise the voices of people with disability and their families in all setting including youth detention, residential settings and in out of home care.

Two senior First Nations leaders Dr Jackie Huggins AM and Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett AO raised a number of key questions and considerations that provided valuable insights into the broader context of issues that were discussed during the day.

Commissioner Mason thanked workshop participants for their important contribution.

Image of workshop attendee speaking into the microphone  at the workshop. 

"We have heard compelling personal stories, and clear and frank advice about how this Royal Commission should approach issues of violence and other forms of abuse against First Nations people with disability."

Opening remarks from the Chair are available and a summary of the workshop findings will be published on the Disability Royal Commission website shortly. Easy Read and Auslan versions will soon be available.