Prime Minister skimps on Royal Commission


1 March 2019

Prime Minister skimps on abuse of people with disability: The Disability Royal Commission must not be delayed

The further political posturing around the long overdue Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability is deplorable.

Leading disability advocacy organisation Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI) has called for a Disability Royal Commission for many years. These calls have been supported by many people with disability in our community and many other advocacy and human rights organisations.

QAI Director Michelle O’Flynn expressed dismay at the further delay tactics engaged in by the Federal Government. “The pressing need for a disability Royal Commission has long been recognised,” she said today. “The 2015 Senate Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings reported on the alarming nature and extent of violence, abuse and neglect that vulnerable Australians with disability have and continue to experience and made a raft of recommendations for urgent actions.”

The first recommendation made by the Senate was for the Federal Government to call a Royal Commission, the terms of reference for which were to be determined in consultation with people with disability, their families and supporters, and disability organisations. This recommendation was made in November 2015. During the three and a half years that the Government has failed to action this key recommendation, countless incidences of violence, abuse and neglect have been endured by Australians with disability. The calling of this Royal Commission is long overdue.

“The Senate was clear in stating: ‘the situation for people with disability is unacceptable,’” Ms O’Flynn noted. “Why then, three and a half years later, are we still waiting?”

“The Federal Government is now deferring establishing a Royal Commission for the purported reason that it requires commitments by the state and territory governments to this inquiry, including commitment to enter into cost-sharing arrangements to fund it. This is unacceptable. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety were both fully funded by the Federal Government. No distinction should be made on this occasion – this must not be used to justify further delay,” Ms O’Flynn said.

QAI calls upon the Federal Government to:

  1. Commit the full funding necessary to ensure a comprehensive and complete inquiry is convened, using the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as a model for the appropriate scope and standing of this Commission;
  2. Appoint a person with appropriate understanding and expertise to head the inquiry and ensure the inquiry is led by Commissioners with lived experience of disability;
  3. Ensure that the terms of reference for the inquiry are developed in genuine consultation with people with disability and that people with disability are actively engaged in the design and conduct of the inquiry; and
  4. Commit to responding in a timely manner to the recommendations of the inquiry.

Queensland Advocacy Incorporated (QAI) is an independent, community-based disability advocacy organisation with an exemplary track record of effective systems and individual advocacy. QAI’s mission is to promote, protect and defend the fundamental needs and rights and lives of the most vulnerable people with disability in Queensland. QAI’s work is directly informed by the voices and stories of the people with disability and mental illness with whom QAI works and advocates for.

Media contact: Michelle O’Flynn 0481 381 528

Information provided in this release is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. You should obtain your own legal advice before applying any information provided in this release to specific issues or situations.