People with Disability Australia (PWDA) supports the call for the Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis, to extend the time to conduct the Royal Commission.
PWDA is currently supporting children and adults with disability to share their stories with the Royal Commission, and extra time will be essential for this to occur.
We welcome the Interim Report, released this week, which demonstrates that the Royal Commission is listening to children and adults with disability and their representative groups about what makes children with disability much more vulnerable to sexual abuse than other children.
The Interim Report also highlights that more time will be necessary to maximise this engagement: “We must remove barriers to enable those affected by child sexual abuse, including the most disadvantaged and vulnerable, to share their story with us. To do this we need time – time to raise awareness about our work and time for people and communities to develop confidence and trust in the Royal Commission.”
Commenting on the need for an extension to the Royal Commission, PWDA Co-Chief Executive Officer, Mr Matthew Bowden said, “The stories that have already been told by people with disability to the Royal Commission are only the tip of the iceberg. People with disability seeking to report sexual abuse in institutions have long been denied access to justice. There have been lots of barriers – some are not believed by police, others are not seen as credible witnesses, and some never even make it as far as reporting due to a lack of support. These stories must be heard, and must not be excluded from the Royal Commission. Without more time, people with disability will once again be denied justice.”
Without this extension in time, the waiting list for those sharing their stories will be cut off in September, meaning that many children and adults with disability will not have the opportunity to participate in this landmark Royal Commission.
PWDA is currently rolling out a project in support of children and people with disability affected by the Royal Commission, involving individual advocacy, training and systemic advocacy work. If you have a story to tell, please contact us using the details below.
If you wish to hear more about the project, or to join the mailing list for this project, please contact Jess Cadwallader, Advocacy Project Manager on firstname.lastname@example.org