/ 28 September 2023

A big day for the Disability Royal Commission


The Squiz

Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley will be handed the final report from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability this morning. But we’re unlikely to see Chair Ronald Sackville and the 6 other Commissioners’ findings just yet… Once Hurley receives the report, the Albanese Government will set the public release date once ministers and bureaucrats have had an opportunity to go through it. And, given this Royal Commission held 32 hearings, 1,785 private sessions and received 7,944 submissions, there’s a bit to get through

What’s this about?

The Disability Royal Commission wasn’t in the headlines much – something Justice Sackville has criticised. But long story short, former PM Scott Morrison launched it in 2019 after Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who lives with cerebral palsy, pushed him on it. The goal was to look into the mistreatment of people with a disability in Oz – and nothing brought that into sharper focus than the death of 54yo Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith. She lived with cerebral palsy and died in April 2020 from septic shock, organ failure and malnourishment after being found living in squalid conditions despite having care provided under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). And since 2019, the Royal Commission has heard thousands of other distressing stories describing many disabled people’s daily reality. 

So when are we likely to see it?

There’s no set date, but word on the street is that Albanese might make the report public tomorrow, so let’s see… As for what it might contain, the recommendations are likely to be wide-ranging – reports say they will cover suggested improvements to health services, education, and our child protection systems. Justice Sackville took an early chance to push for action during his closing comments earlier this month, saying that “the abuses exposed by the Royal Commission demand an urgent and comprehensive response from all Australian governments”. And disability advocates agree – Disability Leadership Institute boss Christina Ryan says “it will be an incredible failure” if immediate change doesn’t happen. And now you’re primed for when it drops… 

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