When a Royal Commission is set up to explore, expose and make recommendations on grave injustices, I believe, that where we have useful information or experience, we are required to do what we can to make that information available.
In April 2019, a Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability was announced. Although Australia seems to have an inordinate number of royal commissions, this one was close to my heart.
I started my working life as a nurse working with people with intellectual disability. This was in the bad old days of institutionalisation. They were perhaps the darkest days of my life, and I only worked there. There were many extremes. Extremes of violence, cruelty, abuse, and neglect.
Very few, if any, extremes of kindness, humanity or dignity.
I left there as soon as my three-year training was complete and joined a fledgling deinstitutionalisation movement to call for a more humane form of care for our citizens with disability.
A casual glance shows a huge change. Institutions, many of which were built in the 1800s were closed down with many people who had been living in incredibly archaic conditions moving into homes in the suburbs. However, although the address may have changed, the conditions did not always change with it.
More than a decade after leaving nursing and all that institutionalisation represented, I was one of the two inaugural workers at the Disability Discrimination Legal Service. A heady time – human rights, discrimination legislation, hope, optimism and excitement for the future.
Many positive and important changes did happen. But what I found was that although many more people with disability were living in the community; unfairness was still a major focus of their lives.
Decades later again and there has been significant change, but as the Royal Commission demonstrates, we still have a long way to go.
I have consulted to many disability organisations, both service providers and advocacy organisations; Joining them in despair at times.
My consultancy focuses on communication strategies that help you to shape your message, make a difference for the organisation and their stakeholders.
If you need help to create and deliver a submission to the Royal Commission, Agility Communications and Connections can help in one of the following ways:
- Reviewing your submission before It is submitted
- Helping you to collect data for your submission, including focus groups with staff and clients
- Writing a submission on your behalf
If you are keen to develop your own submission, there are heaps of resources and support on the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability website.
Let me know if I can help you to end discrimination.