Royal Commission announced
On Friday 5 April 2019 Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government will be conducting a royal commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability. The government expects the royal commission to release an interim report by the end of October 2020, with a final report due by the end of April 2022.
Ronald Sackville AO, QC was appointed as Chair of the commission, supported by Barbara Bennett PSM, Dr Rhonda Galbally AC, Andrea Mason OAM, Alastair McEwin, and the Honourable John Ryan AM. The full terms of reference and a fact sheet can be viewed here. A stand alone website for the Royal Commission will be established soon.
Call for Commissioners to step down
On 8 April Family Advocacy joined people with disability, their organisations and supporters from across the country who are calling for Barbara Bennett PSM and The Hon. John Ryan AM to step down from the royal commission due to a conflict of interest.
Mr Ryan, as a very recent senior public servant for the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (Ageing, Disability and Home Care), has been involved with oversight of residential care programs for people with disability in NSW. Ms Bennett was recently the Deputy Secretary of the Families and Communities Branch of the Department of Social Services (DSS) in the Commonwealth Government, and at various times oversaw the Commonwealth workplace health and compensation scheme, the National Redress Scheme, welfare, family safety, housing and homelessness, and grants to the disability sector. DSS also funds and oversees disability services and Australian Disability Enterprises. Therefore, both had responsibility for organisations that are likely to come under significant scrutiny by our Royal Commission. As such, their involvement raises major concerns about their conflict of interest, whether potential, perceived or real.
A joint statement, signed by a wide range of organisations and individuals, including Family Advocacy, acknowledges that Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett are respected public servants who sought to make a positive contribution to ending abuse and violence through this royal commission. However, we believe this work would be best served if they acknowledged their real, potential or perceived conflicts of interest and step aside.
You can view the signed statement here.
Watch this space for further developments on this matter.