Celebrating his 10th “truly free” day of freedom since he was 16, Indigenous man Daryl Carr, 35, who has a mild intellectual disability, had a single message. “I don’t want to see the mob go through what I went through,” said Mr Carr, a Wiradjuri man who has spent most of his life behind bars. He was released from prison in late May after a NSW Supreme Court judge found that Mr Carr had been cruelly detained on a five-year extended supervision order for 11 years, sometimes for “minor breaches”.
Free and confidential counselling and support services are available to support people with disability, their family, carers and supporters impacted by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (also known as the Disability Royal Commission). In Victoria, these services are provided by Relationship Australia Victoria and drummond street services. The two organisations’ services are independent and separate from the Disability Royal Commission.
The lack of awareness of our human rights permeates throughout the health sector and recent hearingsby the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability have shed light on the human cost. Health sector responses have been a life-and-death matter for people with disabilities for a very long time. Throw in a global pandemic and reforms to health sector policy and practice have never been more urgent.
Over and over the last two weeks, the same words echoed. They didn’t listen to me. They didn’t see me. They didn’t think I was worth helping.
Ms Mitchell’s testimony at the third public hearing held in western Sydney this month has been one of many to shine a light on the challenges of getting treatment for complex medical conditions, and navigating Australia’s health system.
As it turns its attention to examining the Australian health system, the Disability Royal Commission is adapting to the needs of the people who are at the centre of this inquiry, people with disabilities. Over the next two weeks it’ll hear evidence from people with intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries and autism. But being in a hearing room can be a confronting experience. So to help them, the Royal Commission has held a session to explain what they might encounter.
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.
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.
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.
An Adelaide mother has told the disability royal commission her son suffered severe injuries and was made to live in filth while in residential care.
Disability Royal Commission hearings sometimes use terms that most Australians aren’t very familiar with. The ‘Jargon Buster’ is a list of these explained in plain language.
“When you say you’re going to have a royal commission that’s going to have disabled people at the heart of it and then you don’t have a single disabled person whose giving evidence, that’s incredibly problematic,” advocate Samantha Connor said.