Australian federal government announces royal commission into abuse of people with disabilities

At long last, the federal government has announced its much anticipated royal commission charged with investigating ongoing abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disabilities in Australia. Since the disability community has been calling for such a comprehensive enquiry for a long time, this move by the government has been widely welcomed by disability rights activists and the opposition. However, because the Coalition government has announced the commission as perhaps the last political measure taken by the Morrison government before going into caretaker mode ahead of national elections in May, there was some concern that this could amount to nothing more than a electoral manoeuvre to polish the tarnished image of the Morrison administration. The vagueness of the proposed terms of reference were also of grave concern to the disability sector.

Graeme Innes,


Disability Discrimination Commissioner

strongly welcomes the announcement, only qualifying his endorsement by

pointing out

that the terms of reference have no redress scheme, meaning it is not quite clear what legal recourse people with disabilities who have been abused and victimised will have in the end. Despite the fact that this commission is meant to be above party politics, it is necessary to mention that the surplus announced in the federal budget this week will come at the expense of the

National Disability Insurance Scheme

which will remain chronically underfunded. Thus, whilst setting up this royal commission is a step long overdue, when it comes to redistributing resources, the disability community is not a priority; after all, redistributive budgetary patterns are one of the most genuine reflections of power relations between different groups in society. In this regard at least, there has been hardly any progress for the disability community in the country.

For more on disability policies in Australia, read more


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