Disability Royal Commission report calls for urgent change to end segregation and abuse
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Key Points
  • The Disability Royal Commission’s final report was made public on Friday, and included 222 recommendations.
  • The report detailed people with disabilities’ experiences of violence, segregation, abuse, neglect and exploitation.
  • The recommendations call for changes across health, guardianship, schooling, work, the justice system and housing.
The final report of the Disability Royal Commission has made 222 recommendations to improve the lives of the 4.4 million people living with disabilities in Australia.
It comes after 32 public hearings with evidence from 837 witnesses, 7,944 submissions from people with disability and their families, and 1785 private sessions.
The report, which was released on Friday, recommended the establishment of a Disability Rights Act to enshrine the international human rights of people with disabilities into domestic law.
It also calls for the establishment of a National Disability Agreement and National Disability Commission, along with changes to health, guardianship, schooling, employment, the justice system and housing.

The report also made a series of recommendations around ending segregation, which has been a major focus of advocates and members of the community.

Nicole Lee, president of People With Disability Australia (PWDA), said the report was a source of “pride, but also grief” for the community.
She called for a broad response to the report and said people with disabilities must be included in making decisions that will impact them.
“We want to see the council be set up by the federal government to include people with disability; we don’t want to advise into any reporting mechanisms or any councils or oversight bodies that are being developed moving forward.
“We want to be in the room alongside government with the bureaucrats, making the decisions for our lives that impact our lives by us for us.

“We need to be in the driving seat moving forward and won’t accept anything less than that from this day forward.”

In a guide to the report, the commissioners wrote: “The vision for an inclusive Australia in our Final report is of a future where people with disability can live, learn, work, play, create and engage together with people without disability in safe and diverse communities [and] have the power of choice, independence and the dignity to take risks.”
The report said people should be able to make contributions to communities that value their presence, be treated with respect, and be culturally safe in families, communities and peer networks.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said people with disability have been let down by “services, systems, institutions, governments and community”.
“We welcome the Disability Royal Commission’s final report and we support its vision of a more inclusive society where violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability is just not acceptable,” she said.
“The message of this report is clear – we do need to do better.”

Rishworth said the Albanese government was starting to address issues raised by the commission.

She said the Disability Services and Inclusion Bill, which was introduced last sitting week, will provide greater safeguards for people receiving services outside of the NDIS.
Rishworth also announced the establishment of a Commonwealth Disability Royal Commission task force.

“The task force will coordinate the Australian Government’s response, particularly focused on the recommendations that are directed towards the Commonwealth,” she said.

“The task force will be critical in assessing how the individual recommendations are linked together, understanding the broader implications of these recommendations and sequencing the government’s response.”
Rishworth said the work would be done in close consultation with the disability community and stakeholders.

She said the government would take a “considered and staged approach” in responding to the recommendations, but would not yet provide a government response to any specific recommendations.

What did the Disability Royal Commission find?

Over a four-and-a-half-year period, people with disabilities detailed their experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as part of the royal commission.
The final report comprises 12 volumes and an executive summary totalling 4872 pages across 15 books.
Chair Ronald Sackville said the recommendations reflect the “very many settings and contexts in which violence against, and abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability take place.”

The report found people with disabilities face increased systemic barriers to education, employment and housing, excluding them from many aspects of Australian life.

Many live in homes that do not accommodate their disabilities, others experience chronic homelessness and those who work are often paid far below minimum wage.
Children with disabilities also face multifaceted issues such as exclusion from schooling environments where they can be discouraged from attending, socially shut out, overlooked by teachers and deprived of necessary educational resources.
Those placed in youth detention are more likely to become enmeshed in the justice system, especially if they live with a cognitive disability.
All of this can mean people with disabilities are more prone to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect than in the wider community.

Additional reporting by AAP

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