Commitment 1

Commitment 1 – AFDO Political Platform

1. Commitment to the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability across all settings in Australia, and encompassing matters raised by AFDO and its members that are not currently in or are lacking sufficient weight in the Royal Commissions Terms of Reference as well as conflict of interest issues with two of the appointed Commissioners.

A Royal Commission has been agreed to be held into violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with disability in all settings across Australia.

The Federal ALP made an election pledge that they will fund a Royal Commission for this purpose to the sum of $26 million dollars once in office. AFDO welcomed this announcement but seeked a further commitment from all parties to fully fund the RC to the extent required for it to undertake a comprehensive inquiry.

Following a Greens Senate motion supported by the ALP, cross bench and some independents this was referred to the House of Representatives. This was agreed by the House of Representatives and the Coalition Government then committed to fully fund the Royal Commission, released a draft Terms of Reference for comment and provided significant funds in the current budget and in forward forecasts.

Following the input on the draft, the Coalition Government released the final Royal Commission Terms of Reference and announced the appointment of six Commissioners to commence work on the inquiry as soon as practicable.

AFDO and its members do not believe that, as they currently stand, the powers of the Commission go far enough in terms of bringing about or recommending prosecutions to relevant authorities. There is also no commitment to a full redress scheme for people with disability who may have had their human and legal rights affected by violence, abuse, exploitation and/or neglect. The Terms of Reference into Child Abuse in Institutional Settings should be used as a comparison as these strongly outline requirements on both of these issues.

The issue of two of the appointed Commissioners having strong conflicts of interest must be addressed, we have joined with the sector and called for both Ms. Barbara Bennett and Hon. John Ryan to both step aside and be replaced on the Commission immediately.

The Commission and all the Commissioners must have the full confidence and trust of people with disability, their families, advocates and supporters in order for it to effectively undertake its inquiry across Australia. Due to the conflicts of both of these Commissioners the sector has indicated that unless they stand aside and are replaced this will not be the case.

We require that the Royal Commission in its establishment and operation:

  • Is fully funded to undertake a comprehensive inquiry
  • Covers all settings across Australia
  • Has full and comprehensive investigatory powers inclusive of providing prosecution investigation recommendations for human rights and/or legal breaches
  • Provides a redress scheme for people with disability who have had their human and/or legal rights breached.
  • Provides support for people with disability to fully participate in the RC both pre, during and post inclusive of accessibility, support and professional counselling
  • Provides additional Federal Government funding support to advocacy and systemic advocacy organisations to assist people with disability in their participation or handling of the Royal Commission both pre, during and post the inquiry duration
  • Remove and replace appointed Commissioners identified by people with disability, their families, the disability sector, colleagues and supporters who have significant conflicts of interest. This must happen to maintain the integrity of the Commission as well as confidence in its role and operation.