• Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability - Brisbane, November 20, 2020. (Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability)Source: Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability
The first all-Indigenous hearing for the Disability Royal Commission will commence in Brisbane next week, focusing on Indigenous parents living with a disability.
Douglas Smith

20 Nov 2020 - 4:11 PM  UPDATED 20 Nov 2020 - 4:11 PM

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will commence its inaugural First Nations hearing next week, providing an opportunity for Indigenous parents living with a disability to give evidence to the inquiry.

The hearing will be held in Brisbane and will focus on the challenges and concerns Indigenous parents face living with a disability. 

Speaking with NITV News on Friday, Commissioner Andrea Mason said it was an area that needed more examination. 

“We have had inquiries looking at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems in past enquiries and they looked at First Nations children with disabilities, but rarely First Nations parents with disabilities," she said.

Ms Mason said prior research and extensive consultations across Australia had proven Indigenous people living with a disability generally faced more barriers than non-Indigenous people due to "systemic" factors.

"First Nations people with disabilities walk in three worlds: The First Nations world, the disability world and then they walk in the Australian community," she said.

"And we know that race and ableism, which is discrimination because a person has a disability, is higher for First Nations people with disabilities...even compared to First Nations people without a disability.

"So right across the board, their experiences of exclusions are higher."

It will be the eighth public hearing of the Royal Commission overall. 

The next First Nations hearing is scheduled for April next year and will examine how Indigenous parents interact with child protection systems and vice versa. 

Senior Counsel assisting the First Nations hearings, Lincoln Crowley, said the inquiry would also examine how systemic racism played a part in the challenges faced by First Nations people with disability.  

“We will hear from people (telling) their stories and share their experiences of how they have interacted with those systems, not only as individuals, but as part of a system, because not only can there be violence, abuse, neglect as an individual, but it can be systemic, and these are important matters that the commission will examine,” he said.

"All journeys have three parts to it, a start, an end or a destination, and ultimately a purpose...and the purpose here is important...the purpose ultimately is to bring positive change to the lives of First Nations people living with a disability."

On Friday, a cleansing ceremony was conducted at the Disability Royal Commission office in Brisbane ahead of next week’s hearing.

The Disability Royal Commission is due to come to conclude in mid-2022, however, an application has been submitted for it to extend into 2023 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its schedule.

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