The chair of the disability royal commission says the complicated inquiry needs more time to explore ‘endemic’ failings.
The chair of the disability royal commission says the complicated inquiry needs more time to explore ‘endemic’ failings.

‘No quick fix’ as scale of abuse ‘underestimated’

The sheer scale of neglect, violence, abuse and exploitation of people with a disability in Australia meant the royal commission tasked with investigating the widespread failings needed more time, its chair Ronald Sackville QC said.

Mr Sackville announced on Friday he would ask the federal government for an extension until September 2023, saying the terms of references for the inquiry were broader than any other held this century.

He agreed with a reporter who asked whether the scope of the inquiry had been "underestimated".

"There are no quick fixes for the endemic and deep-rooted issues we have identified and explored and we will continue to explore," Mr Sackville said, adding the inquiry was a "marathon not a sprint".

Commissioner Rhonda Galbally AC thanked those who had come forward. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.
Commissioner Rhonda Galbally AC thanked those who had come forward. Picture: Stuart McEvoy/The Australian.

"We are looking at violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in all settings - in education, the justice system … the health system.

"The terms of reference in the beginning were extremely broad."

The extension sought would expand the inquiry's run to four years and five months.

It comes as the commission prepares to hand over its interim report on Friday to Governor-General David Hurley on Friday, who will in turn table it to parliament.

It follows more than 1600 submissions and weeks of public hearings before the commission, which has heard tragic stories of the inhumane treatment of people with a disability across all ages.

Commissioner Andrea Mason spoke about the barriers faced by Indigenous Australians with a disability.
Commissioner Andrea Mason spoke about the barriers faced by Indigenous Australians with a disability.

Commissioner and disability advocate Rhonda Galbally thanked those who had so far come forward and credited the families and organisations fighting for the rights of people with a disability.

"Their message is very clear - it is completely unacceptable that people with a disability in Australia are subjected to violence, neglect and exploitation," she said.

The royal commission was established in April 2019 in response to widespread community concerns about the mistreatment of people with a disability.

It is expected the interim report will be tabled about 2pm on Friday. The contents are unable to be published until after the report is tabled.

More to come.

Originally published as 'No quick fix': Scale of abuse 'underestimated'