Disability royal commission gets underway

Paul Hayes

16/09/2019 1:37:30 PM

As the inquiry into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability begins, Australia has been warned to expect shocking stories.

Jordon Steele-John
‘This is the beginning of a journey towards justice disabled people have been fighting toward for decades,’ Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John said of the royal commission. (Image: AAP)

‘I think that Australians will be somewhat horrified when some of these stories start to emerge.’
That is People With Disability Australia CEO Jeff Smith discussing what he expects will come to light in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, which hold its first public sitting in Brisbane on Monday.
Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who moved a motion in support for a royal commission into the abuse of disabled people earlier this year, told SBS News its opening represents an ‘emotional day’ for people with disability.
‘This is the beginning of a journey towards justice disabled people have been fighting toward for decades,’ he said.
‘We are determined to defend its integrity – to make sure that it is the tool that we need, not the one that MPs feel they want to give us.’
Advocates have called the royal commission long overdue and believe it is desperately needed to help people who are currently experiencing abuse.
‘There has been and continues to be a lot of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability,’ Australian Federation of Disability Organisations CEO Ross Joyce told AAP.
‘We need to ensure that these things are stopped and also that people with disability have the opportunity to put some of what will be horrendous stories forward, so that the wider Australian community is more aware of that.
‘We’re also talking about things that are still currently happening to people with disability. They’re the areas where we need to have some rapid decisions made, rapid policy formulation, improvements to laws, to ensure that these things are stopped.’
The three-year inquiry will cover homes, schools, sporting clubs, workplaces, group homes, prisons, hospitals, aged care and mental health facilities.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has agreed to extend the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by six months in order ‘to continue to hear evidence from Australians and conduct its deliberations’.
‘This government has aged care front and centre of its agenda as one of our key priorities,’ Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said.
‘It is important that our aged care sector continues to provide high-quality care and that we understand where we can make improvements.’

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