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Update on the Disability Royal Commission & their public hearings

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (DRC) has completed two public hearings since returning from their postponement due to COVID-19.

 

The first hearing, held between 18-21 August, looked into experiences of people with disability during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This follows on from the Commission’s Statement of Concern about the impact of COVID-19 on people with disability released earlier this year. The hearing heard from a variety of individuals and organisations with key themes being:

 

  • The increase in the risk of abuse and violence during the pandemic (resulting from implemented restrictions, e.g. community activities being placed on hold)
  • Access to appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for individuals and staff
  • Lack of education regarding COVID-19 for individuals with disability (easy-read, other languages, etc.)
  • Positive stories of how some providers managed/are managing COVID-19 to ensure the needs of their participants continue to be met.

 

Questions to be followed up as a result of this hearing include:

 

  • Should disability support workers be recognised as essential workers?
  • What changes are required if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case in a residential setting?
  • Ways to address the increase in isolation for people with disability during this pandemic, specifically in closed residential settings.

 

The second public hearing, examining the use of psychotropic medication, behaviour support and behaviours of concern, ran from 22-25 September.  Themes highlighted include:

 

  • Consideration of the legislative framework guiding the use of restrictive practices, particularly chemical restraint (i.e. medication)
  • Concerns regarding inadequate funding and training regarding Behaviour Support Plans (BSP)
  • The NDIS Commission was questioned about strategies to reduce and eliminate restrictive practices and unauthorised chemical restraints
  • The relationship between the functions of state and federal legislation and agencies. 

 

The next public hearing is scheduled for 12-16 October in Brisbane. It will focus on barriers experienced by students with disability in accessing and obtaining a safe, quality and inclusive school education and consequent life course impacts. We will provide an update of this hearing in our next newsletter.

 

For further information on the Royal Commission’s hearings, go to the website: https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/ 

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