04 October 2023

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability has released its final report to the public when it was tabled to parliament on Friday, 29 September.  

From its inception over four years ago, Ability Options welcomed, supported and contributed to the work of the Disability Royal Commission. 

We encouraged and supported participants, families and staff to contribute too. We saw the DRC as a generational opportunity to meet the challenges, identify critical improvements needed and share good practice.  

The extensive, 12-volume report contains 222 recommendations from the Commission that will aid governments, service providers, and the Australian community to build a more inclusive society. This is at our heart and our mission – to support people to meet their aspirations and inclusion in the community – is firmly at the centre of this report.  

So, what happens from here? 

The Commission has given State and Federal Governments six-months to respond to its final report. This means they will spend the next six months reviewing the recommendations before they make any decisions on how legislation should change. From there, changes agreed upon will likely still require consultation, including legislation which can take a long time.  

Our main takeaway from the report is that the Commission’s recommendations centre around the need for a more inclusive approach to support people with disability in our society. This fits our vision, mission and values. Two of our core values are inclusion and trust, which are at the heart of everything we do and have done since we were founded. We have always played our part in creating a society that is inclusive of people living with disability, and one where people seeking support to live the lives they choose can trust the services they use. 

Our key takeaways from a first read of this historic report: 
  1. The Report reflects the many experiences, settings, and contexts that people living with disability have experienced violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. 
  2. We acknowledge the significance of the Commission’s recommendations and findings in its final report. They have been provided to governments and to the rest of us to ensure we find the right path forward to an inclusive society. 
  3. It will take some considerable time before we know what participants, advocates, sector workers, organisations and governments think the path to our inclusive society looks like and longer still to create the changes including in legislation, to make the pathway open to us all to walk down. 

Some of our initial takeaways from the report’s recommendations are:  
  • Recommending that Australia develops a co-designed Disability Rights Act to shape an inclusive future 
  • Recommending Australia strengthens awareness and understanding of disability rights and the Disability Rights Act 
  • Some Commissioners have recommended consideration of changes to make service offers less segregated and improve governance to ensure there is more choice and there are more inclusive options available, including in education, home and living services, and support coordination 
  • Recommending delivering on the principles of choice and control 
  • Recommending there is a sustainable, well trained, well supported and well paid as well as a passionate workforce 
  • Recommending improving service quality and delivery with tailored support and improved oversight. 

It’s important to remember that we don’t expect changes to happen quickly. We will ensure that as decisions are made that we update and involve our participants, their carers and our staff.  

Our ongoing Mission 

All the way through the Disability Royal Commission, we have taken a listen and act approach. 

We have attended the hearings, read the reports, heard the messages from all who contributed, and have contributed ourselves. We have already made many changes to the way we operate over the last few years, which we know have improved our services and moved us closer to an inclusive society. 

Ability Options continues to make supporting people living with disability through high-quality and safe services. For example, we have: 

  • Partnered with La Trobe University to embed Active Support and Practice Leadership 
  • Continue to work in partnership with the Council for Intellectual Disability to progress support for decision making 
  • Established a Human Rights Committee that promotes co-design methodology 
  • We have invested in new policies, processes, systems and continuous improvement to ensure we update, learn lessons and have best governance practice
  • Introduced an Ability Options Practice Framework focused on engagement, wellbeing, being trauma informed, culturally responsive, and human centric 
  • Invested significantly in recruiting, retaining, training, and engaging our workforce and the leaders who lead them 

Our organisation and people are ready and willing to play our part in building a more inclusive Australia for people living with disability. 

As we continue to understand this final report, we will update you more what this might mean for you and how Ability Options will respond to them.  

If you have any questions about the Royal Commission’s final report, you can ask us at royalcommission@abilityoptions.org.au.

NDS has recently announced its response to the Royal Commission’s final report, including outlining that it will be working with government to ensure that the perspective of providers is given weight in the development of reforms, policies and programs. You can read updates from NDS on their site.

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