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Media Release: Australia’s Disability Representative Organisations Call for Healing

By September 29, 2023October 11th, 2023No Comments

The release of the final report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is a huge landmark for the disability community in Australia. It’s the start of our journey to an inclusive future.

Today, however, we choose to hold space for our community’s trauma and grief, in the spirit of healing and restorative justice.

Since 2019, the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) has held 32 public hearings with evidence from 837 witnesses. It has received almost 8000 submissions, over half from people with disability themselves.

People with disability have given their courageous and often deeply painful testimony in the hope of change. We recognise the many people who haven’t been able to give testimony, often prevented by the very systems examined, and mourn the loss of all people with disability who have lost their lives to this violence.

The DRC’s work has revealed the deep impact of intersectional discrimination and institutional neglect and abuse. This has been felt across the disability community and has particularly affected First Nations people with disability and people with an intellectual disability or complex support needs.

Grounded in ongoing legacies of colonisation, our communities have shared experiences of institutionalisation, incarceration, removal of children and of institutionalised ableism in policies, programs and services. For First Nations people with disability, this is further layered with ongoing systemic racism and colonial violence.

Reports and inquiries over decades have shown that the human rights, aspirations and needs of our communities are continually devalued and that systems have been designed to exclude or ignore them. Given this Royal Commission was the first of its kind to take into account in its Terms of Reference the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), it is our expectation that the CRPD will underpin the response to the DRC, with people with disability’s leadership at the centre.

As Disability Representative Organisations, we jointly acknowledge there will come a time when we will need to discuss the response to the final recommendations of the Disability Royal Commission, with the people who have been the most hurt at the heart of this response. We will do this in our own time, and our own space.

An inclusive future for people with disability will be built and led by us. Nothing about us, without us.

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Children and Young People with Disability Australia

Disability Advocacy Network Australia

First Peoples Disability Network Australia

Inclusion Australia

National Ethnic Disability Alliance

People with Disability Australia

Women with Disabilities Australia