Above me as I write this is a book shelf, and on that shelf in my peripheral vision is this purple blur. Above me is the 12-volume, 15 books, and over 6,000 pages making up the final report of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (or the Disability Royal Commission) with 222 recommendations and dark purple spines staring down at me.
This royal commission was four years in the making, and it has brought alot of pain but with its release there is hope in the disability community; hope for change, for justice, for a better tomorrow for disabled Australians everywhere. While the royal commission is dense and filled with thorough recommendations, the volume that interests me the most is the last one, Volume 12: Beyond the Royal Commission (Yes, I did shamelessly steal the name).
While this volume is more filled with recommendations on how the government should measure the effectiveness of policy implemented, the one part of this volume that gets skipped over is making sure these recommendations get implemented. This volume can go on and on about implementation but that’s assuming the government even tries.
The Royal Commission is filled with recommendations, and as it says on the tin these are only recommendations to the government. From the Commission’s, the media, and most of the public the job of disability rights is done. The stories have been told, recommendations printed, and the government has launched a working group. The job is done, it’s time to pop the champagne.
But as any disabled activist will tell you: ‘this is just the start’. The Royal Commission is ONLY the first step, and is luckily the least political. The real fight is in getting all of these policies implemented and fighting every politician in the way to get our justice and rights. This is the largest challenge we find, because what these recommendations do not talk about is the roadblocks, the price tag, the political capital, and the continual fight that is still needed.
Activists will start the fight for this but parliament is where these battles must happen and must be won. Parliament and the Government have primacy over the judiciary meaning if these reforms pass here the entire legal system will be shaped around this. If disability rights laws are proactive and not reactive we will have a government and a legal system that will provide the services, protections, and rights all disabled Australians deserve.
Already there has been push back, with politicians like Pauline Hanson and One Nations pushing back on NDIS funding and services offered describing the NDIS as a “scam” and a “rort”. None of the major parties (Labor, Coalition, Greens) have policies on a disability rights act, and the Greens are the only major political party pushing for desegregation of schooling and implementing all of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; but only by 2030.
The Albanese government’s policy has been more about stopping waste and fraud in the NDIS and NDIA which is needed but very little has been commented on what Labor will do other disability rights issues outside of the NDIS/NDIA.
The question all disabled activists and allies might be asking is: “What is beyond the royal commission?” and all that can be said is plenty of fighting ableism and winning the hearts of minds of the public and politicians for material change in the conditions of disabled Australians.
We have given our advice and told our stories. It is time for change, it is time to ramp up political pressure until change is seen. Until we have desegregated schools, a disability rights act, and see material change in the conditions and lives of all disabled Australians.