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Disability Royal Commission – final report tabled; 222 recommendations for change

The final report by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has been tabled in Federal Parliament. It is Australia’s largest-ever investigation into the lives of people with disability.

There are 222 recommendations for change including:

  • Phasing out segregated education
  • Establishing a Federal Government portfolio for disability
  • Creating a Disability Rights Act
  • Establishing a new complaints mechanism
  • Changing guardianship legislation
  • Creating a national disability commission
  • Changing laws around sterilisation
  • Improving accessibility to information and interpreters
  • Reforming the way the justice system interacts with people with disability
  • Increasing culturally-safe supports for First Nations people and removing barriers to the NDIS in remote communities

Commissioners said:

The social transformation needed to make Australia truly inclusive requires us to take account of the history of exclusion that has shaped the settings, systems and daily lives of people with disability through to today. Inclusion involves social transformation that enables people with disability to live, learn, work, play, create and engage alongside people without disability.”

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten says this report is a ‘historic moment’

“It is literally, genuinely, a historic moment for Australians with disability and, in fact, all Australians. The numbers and the stories in this very important royal commission are harrowing. The fact that the Royal Commission estimates that for people over 20 with a disability, there are 400 avoidable deaths each year, the fact that really, for the last quarter of a century and beyond, that 47 in every 100 adults with a disability are excluded from the labour market, is shocking.”

In 2016, the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (which includes the Victorian Council of Churches) issued this statement concerning people with disability:

As representatives of many religious traditions and different faiths, we stand together in affirming that all people have gifts and contributions that enliven and strengthen the community to which they belong and seek to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunity to participate in the faith community of their choice.

The Council recognises the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2006) which states discrimination should not occur on the basis of religion amongst other factors. Furthermore, the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992, (DDA) makes it unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of disability.

For people with disabilities, and their families and carers, participation and belonging have at times been problematic because of a range of architectural, cultural and theological factors. People with disabilities request the following from faith communities:

  1. (i)  their physical and sensory needs are addressed in order to be present at times of worship and social activity
  2. (ii)  they experience a sense of unconditional welcome and belonging and are not treated differently on account of disability and
  3. (iii)  they be consulted as to their particular participation in the life of their faith community.

Across the state, the Faith Communities Council of Victoria shares the call that faith communities and faith leaders play their part in ensuring that people marginalised by disability experience a sense of welcome and social inclusion, based on the principles of justice, equality and love.

Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) is comprised of the following peak bodies: Baha’i Community of Victoria, Brahma Kumaris Australia, Buddhist Council of Victoria, Hindu Council of Australia (Vic), Islamic Council of Victoria, Jewish Community Council of Victoria, Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria and the Victorian Council of Churches.