People with Disability Australia (PWDA) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Draft Accessibility Strategy (the Strategy) for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Royal Commission).
We believe first and foremost that the Strategy should reflect the experiences, expectations and needs of people with disability. Accessibility is core to the Royal Commission. Without full accessibility, many of us will not be able to contribute our knowledge, experiences and expertise.
The Strategy and the Royal Commission must be an example of full accessibility, while also recognising that accessibility is an evolving practice and concept, and requires an adaptable approach. This Royal Commission belongs to people with disability first and foremost, and thus should frame accessibility as core business and essential to the success of the Royal Commission. To the greatest extent possible in an ableist context, we should be able to rely on the accessibility of our Royal Commission, and on a flexible approach from the Royal Commission staff. Therefore we call for the Strategy to be written in plain English and for it be made available in a variety of formats and languages, and that the same takes place for all Royal Commission documents.
Further, supports mentioned in the Strategy, including legal, therapeutic and advocacy supports, should be made available before the Royal Commission progresses further. Peer and representative organisations of all groups mentioned in the Strategy, as well as women with disability, should be funded for outreach, inreach and consultation as a priority.
It is essential that the Royal Commission articulate a trauma informed approach that is premised on the social model of disability and doing no further harm to survivors, and that this is articulated in the Strategy.