The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Disability Royal Commission) was held over a period of four and a half years and was established due to the hard work and persistence of people with disability and their advocates. Throughout its inquiry, the Disability Royal Commission received 7,944 submissions, published 14 issues papers, and held 1,785 private sessions, which were a confidential way for people to share their experiences directly with a Commissioner. Ultimately, the Disability Royal Commission’s Final Report, overseen by seven Commissioners, came down with 222 recommendations across 12 volumes.
The NMHCCF was honoured to be involved in the submission process and looks forward to working constructively with the Australian Government in prioritising and implementing these recommendations through a close engagement and co-design process.
Summary of Position
The National Mental Health Consumer and Carer Forum (NMHCCF) welcomed the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability (the Disability Royal Commission Final Report) on 29 September, 2023. In its reponse, the NMHCCF aims to highlight the topics covered by the recommendations that it supports and what is missing from the Final Report. Overall, the NMHCCF is supportive of the recommendations made and is heartened by the fact that the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) was established and followed through with the support of the Australian Federal and State Governments.
As the Disability Representative Organisation (DRO) and Disability Representative and Carer Organisation (DRCO) for psychosocial disability, the NMHCCF aims to uphold the rights and improve the lives of people with psychosocial disability and their family, carers, and kin through its tireless systemic advocacy.
Priority Recommendations for the Australian Government to Implement
- Strengthen Australia’s disability and human rights framework, including the enactment of a Disability Rights Act and the establishment of an independent National Disability Commission with a strong mandate and sufficient resources, functions, and powers.
- Co-design prioritisation and implementation of the recommendations with people with disability.
- Establish a new federal disability portfolio and department responsible for the disability and carers policies and programs.
- Implement all the guardianship, supported decision-making, and restrictive practices recommendations. Restrictive practice recommendations need to go further than what is recommended in the Report.
- The health workforce capability recommendations disproportionately refer to cognitive disability without the mention of psychosocial disability. This is a grave oversight considering the severe mental health workforce shortages and the importance of developing the mental health peer workforce, as recommended by the Productivity Commission.
- The NMHCCF is supportive of the majority of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisation’s (AFDO) Report Card in relation to inclusive education, employment, and housing. However, the NMHCCF would like to see extreme caution exercised in implementing recommendations 7.14 and 7.15 and does not agree with AFDO’s recommendation that there be a reduction in timeline for implementation.
- Disability awareness in OPCAT monitoring (Recommendation 8.2) and implementation of the National Principles (Recommendation 8.12). There should be specific mental health and trauma-informed training for staff of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) and detention authorities and facilities.
- Cultural safety and remote workforce development.
- Embed human rights in service providers, strengthen disability advocacy, and improve the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
- Improve national safeguards, implement key human rights provisions, and establish nationally consistent safeguarding functions and definitions in Commonwealth, State, and Territory legislation.
Missing Recommendations that Require Implementation
The DRC Final Report lacks recommendations relating to psychosocial disability
- Develop a nationally consistent definition of psychosocial disability, which follows that provided in the NMHCCF’s position statement.
The DRC Final Report does not address human rights violations in mental health and psychosocial disability
The DRC Final Report does not address how to improve environments where violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation of people with psychosocial disability occur
- Forensic psychiatric facilities and mental health inpatient units require specific mention as environments where human rights violations occur most frequently for people with mental-ill health.
- Commonwealth entities to co-design with people with disability and their family, carers, and kin in the development and evaluation of policies, laws, programs, and planning around disability services.
- Health workforce capability recommendations specifically for psychosocial disability.
- Recovery-oriented, trauma-informed, and rights-based education for all mental health treatment programs, services, and facilities that use restrictive practices. In addition, clear and stringent nationally consistent guidelines on restrictive practices need to be implemented.
- Cultural safety recommendations to include CALD communities and cover a wider array of settings than merely criminal justice and the introduction of specific First Nations forensic psychosocial disability services that align with Closing The Gap targets to reduce disproportionate incarceration.
- Improved education around mental health and trauma-informed practice for emergency services.
- There should be a specific recommendation on Commonwealth, State, and Territory entities to take an approach encompassing the ‘social model of disability’.
- The Commonwealth should consider the DRC Final Report and the NDIS Review Final Report as a single piece of work and that implementation of the recommendations of both documents is aligned and undertaken simultaneously.
The NMHCCF's Official Statement on the Disability Royal Commission Final Report
NMHCCF Official Statement on the Disability Royal Commission (DRC) Final Report