The Disability Royal Commission resumes hearings in Sydney this morning focusing on the healthcare provided to people with Intellectual Disabilities. It’ll investigate why the group is twice as likely to suffer preventable death with Commission chair Ronald Sackville warning the inquiry will hear disturbing evidence.
The Disability Royal Commission is set to be a defining feature of the disability landscape in 2020. The mandate is huge, and the pace is fast. The Royal Commission is far from over, in fact it has really just begun. While we don’t know what the final recommendations will be, the Commission is publishing Issues Papers, Progress Reports and videos from the hearings, that give us some idea about what they are thinking.
Closing date: March 20, 2020
People with disability, including young people and First Nations people, are over-represented across the criminal justice systems in Australia and are at heightened risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. The issues paper is calling for responses about prisons and forensic mental health facilities where forced treatment, seclusion (solitary confinement) and other restrictive practices, such as physical, chemical and mechanical restraints may be used.
The disability royal commission will resume next month as it works towards delivering its first major report in October. The next public hearings will be in western Sydney, looking at allegations people with cognitive disabilities are dying because of poor health care. It comes after a rocky start for the commission, with some advocates critical of the lack of disability voices in its opening phase.
The Commission has released planned community events, public hearings and cohort specific engagements up until June 2020. The schedule is subject to change and more events will be confirmed at a later date.
Transcripts are available for the hearing into homes and living for people with disability in Victoria with particular interest in the experiences of people who have lived or are currently living in group homes. This hearing took place in Melbourne during the first week of December 2019.
National Legal Aid chairman Brendan Thomas said the service’s new website would help ensure people and their families or carers could access free, independent advice about engaging with the royal commission.
Closing date: March 20, 2020
The Royal Commission wants to understand the experiences of people with cognitive disability in accessing or receiving health care. Health is a key issue for the Royal Commission because people with disability may experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in health settings. The denial of the right to health care may also be a form of neglect. Access to, and treatment of, people with cognitive disability in the health system will be the subject of the first hearing in February 2020.
Disability and Community Inclusion professor Sally Robinson told the inquiry residents in group homes were being treated in ways that would not be acceptable for other people. “Residents are expected to be compliant, they’re expected to not know very much about their right to complain … They’re expected to endure it,” she told the commission.
The Strategy outlines the principles that will guide the Royal Commission in its engagement with people with disability. It commits the Royal Commission to putting people with disability first in everything we do and explains how we will achieve this. The Strategy was released in draft form for public consultation in August. This version reflects feedback we received from the community.
“My daughter is fearful of everything, she’s had so much abuse,” the mother, referred to as Ms G, told a hearing in Melbourne on Monday. “She didn’t ask to be born with the problems she’s got, but as a result of what she’s been through in the system, she is a very damaged person.”
Dr Spivakovsky questioned the lack of public outrage over the use of what many researchers and activists call “disability-specific lawful violence”.
“I have found the move into supported accommodation resulted in extreme loss of control of my life,” Dr Gibilisco told the disability royal commission on Monday. “I have found it to be a loss to my way of life in a personal and social sense.”
The lawful but “barbaric” use of chemical and mechanical restraints on people with disability should spark public outrage, but instead their use is widely overlooked, a royal commission hearing has been told.
It’s important that as a nation we acknowledge the many lives that have been impacted by these terrible stories and do all we can to ensure they don’t happen again. One way of doing this is by taking a step back and asking why we have needed three royal commissions into vulnerable people in our society in such quick succession.