People with disability and our representative organisations are campaigning for legislation to protect the confidentiality of people telling their stories to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
The Royal Commission has now been running for over a year without full protection for the privacy of people with disability who want to make submissions.
If we are not able to provide information to the Disability Royal Commission in complete confidence, there is a risk that the most severe cases of systemic abuse and neglect will not be exposed. It is vital to the success of the Royal Commission that the appropriate changes to the legislation are made as soon as possible.
“People with disability who want to tell their stories to the Royal Commission are holding back, because they know there is a possibility that the perpetrators of violence may gain access to the information they give after the proceedings are done,” says Romola Hollywood, Director Policy and Advocacy, People with Disability Australia (PWDA).
“People are being asked to make submissions about their carers, support workers, service providers, medical professionals and others they may still depend on for basic necessities. It’s a very dangerous situation for many people to be putting themselves in.”
Carolyn Frohmader, CEO of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) says “Many women and girls with disability are frightened of providing evidence to the DRC without a guarantee that their evidence will be protected and will remain confidential after the DRC finishes. We know that women and girls with disability are at heightened risk of many forms of violence, abuse and exploitation. They have every right to give evidence in a safe and supportive way and to know that they will not be at risk of retribution by doing so.”
Catherine Alpine, CEO of Inclusion Australia, says “People with intellectual disability have told us over and over again about their fear of provider retribution if they speak to the Royal Commission. Changes to the legislation are needed urgently so that people feel safe to speak”.
The Government has been aware of the need to amend the Royal Commissions Act since February and it’s well past time these changes were made
We call upon our Attorney-General Christian Porter and our Federal MPs to pass legislation at the next sitting of Parliament (starting October 19) to keep our submissions sealed beyond the life of the Royal Commission.
Our open letter to the Attorney-General Christian Porter can be found here.
Director Policy and Advocacy
People with Disability Australia
M: 0431 998 273
View the media release on the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia website here