PWDA celebrates 17-month extension to the Disability Royal Commission

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) has welcomed a 17-month extension to the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, now slated to end in September 2023.

PWDA chief executive officer Sebastian Zagarella said the extension of the DRC was a win for people with disability.

“We are very pleased that the voices of people with disability have been heard on this issue,” Mr Zagarella said.

“Violence against people with disability is still endemic in Australia, and we now have the time we need to properly engage with the DRC on the wide range of issues it still needs to investigate.”

The request for an extension was first made in October 2020 by Ronald Sackville, chair of the Disability Royal Commission, who stated that “The commission is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

“It’s essential that people with disability have the space and time to tell their stories,” Mr Zagarella said. It’s also essential that people with disability feel safe to do this.

The lack of legislation properly protecting the privacy of whistleblowers and people making submissions has been a significant stumbling block for a lot of people ready to come forward. 

“People coming forward with stories of violence and abuse want to know that their information is being protected,” Mr Zagarella said.

New legislation to properly protect the privacy of people making submissions was first drafted by the Federal Government in March 2021, almost two years after the DRC began and it’s been a priority for our community to see this new legislation passed. The next opportunity to pass the legislation is the mid-June sitting of Federal Parliament.

“There is no more time to waste getting this legislation passed” Mr Zagarella said.

“We have the extension we asked for. Now we need to make it count by making it safe for people to speak up.”

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