Attorney General Impeding work of Disability Royal Commission

The Australian Greens MPs

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Australian Greens Disability spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said today it was unacceptable that the Attorney General would not introduce privacy protections to the Disability Royal Commission, garuanteeing witnesses confidentiality beyond the life of the Commission, until mid-next year.

“This is a simple legislative fix that would be universally supported by the Australian Parliament, and the Attorney General has had at least 8 months to get it done! There is simply no excuse for forcing disabled people to wait any longer to feel safe to tell their stories,” Steele-John said.

“I have a bill before the Senate right now which could be passed in the upcoming November sitting.

“The Attorney General knows full well that his failure to act urgently is an impediment to the Royal Commission; the deliberate and ongoing delay amounts to a moral obstruction of justice.

“To be able to properly investigate violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect the Royal Commission must be able to protect witnesses including, and especially, disabled people and other individuals who want to blow the whistle on institutions, service providers and government agencies.

“Disability Royal Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC wrote to the Attorney General in February formally asking him to change the law, and in the Royal Commission’s second progress report, released earlier this month, the Chair dedicated an entire section (page 37) to the limitations this issue was placing on the scope of the Royal Commission.

“So many people in our community have lost all faith in the system because of the violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect they, or their family, have suffered; they want to know that it is safe to tell their stories.

“By delaying these important privacy protections until mid-2021 the Attorney General is impeding the ability of the Royal Commission to do its job and he is failing disabled people.”

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