National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to establish the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. This is an important move that echoes the calls of disability organisations Australia-wide.
- NATSILS endorses the submission from the Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, and the supplementary submission from First People’s Disability Network, which raise important points around Australia’s international human rights obligations, the centrality of the lived experience of people with disability to the Royal Commission, systemic causes and issues including poverty, redress, accountability and research.
- There is a lack of data on the full extent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners with disability in prisons, which needs to be explored by the Royal Commission. This is compounded by the difficulties with and access to diagnosis, particularly of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
- The abuses that children, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, face in police watch-houses and youth prisons in Australia is well documented. This includes solitary confinement, inappropriate use of handcuffs and other restraints, use of force, racism and sexual harrassment from guards, lack of access to medical treatment and exercise, among others.
- The Royal Commission must consider the multiple layers of discrimination experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people do not have equal access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or to culturally safe services. There is a particular disparity in access to services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in regional and remote areas.
- NATSILS are of the view that the Government must fund Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled disability support services to provide culturally safe services that enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to equally participate in the Royal Commission.