In February 2018, the Government announced the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in Care. The Inquiry has broad terms of reference - generally examining the historical abuse of children, young persons and vulnerable adults in State care and in the care of faith-based institutions. The Inquiry is expected to make recommendations aimed at ensuring that abuse of this nature will not occur in the future.
Private sessions began in May 2019 and some hearings were held during 2019.
IHC made a written submission to the Inquiry in Dec 2019 about the difficulties experienced by people with intellectual disability when accessing justice.
At the beginning of 2020, IHC was invited to provide oral evidence at a hearing that was meant to be held in April but, due to the lockdown, will now be held in September 2020.
At this hearing IHC Director of Advocacy Trish Grant will give evidence on two significant matters.
Firstly, about IHC’s complaint that students with disabilities are discriminated against in schools and the difficulties experienced having the substantive issues considered by the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Secondly, we will provide evidence on IHC’s access to justice submission that focused on a case study that illustrates an individual’s experience of institutional care and the difficulties experienced seeking justice in respect of those experiences.
IHC has met with the Inquiry staff on four occasions since October 2019 to contribute to their plans on how they will engage with people with intellectual disabilities. The concrete plans on how this will happen are still being formalised. We are hopeful that their plans will include support for people with intellectual disability who choose to come forward and free counselling.
IDEA Services is also talking to services users who may want to participate in the Inquiry.
Some families and service users have registered with the Inquiry themselves, as they did not need support to do so. We would encourage all people and families who do not need support to register to do so themselves. Once we know what support is available, and there is a plan to assist people with intellectual disability to provide information safely, we will ensure that all information about how to engage with the Inquiry is available to people using our services.
Registration can be completed via phone on 0800 222 727 Mon – Fri 8:30 am – 4pm. You can also contact the Inquiry via email on email@example.com to register or to request that they ring you.