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Confidentiality and the Commission

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with a Disability is approaching its one year anniversary since public hearings began. Incredibly, every person who has given evidence so far has done so with full knowledge their identity is being broadcast as well.

Remember when you were a kid and you shared a secret with your friend, only for them to ‘pinky promise’ they wouldn’t tell anyone it was from you?

Anonymity is ingrained in us as a protective mechanism. Whether to protect the people we are talking about, or ourselves, there’s an in-built fear of retribution should it get back that we were responsible.

So it’s astounding to me that people’s identity and the evidence they have given to the Disability Royal Commission isn’t protected by confidentiality. They have done so with the full knowledge their name, location and circumstances are shared on a public forum.

A request for confidentiality has been submitted, however to date it has not been successful. We’re 12 months into the process and I fear that if confidentiality is not provided, we may miss out on crucial evidence thanks to the fear of retribution.

Think of people employed in the sector. These carers (and the like) love what they do, and want to see the sector improved for everyone. Yet how can they have confidence in the system that should they speak out their employment will be secured?

That’s what the power of anonymity can have. It encourages people to speak out without worry their bravery will be negatively rewarded.

That’s why I want to say a huge THANK YOU to those people who have been brave enough to come forward. Thanks to those individuals, we have the opportunity to correct what’s wrong with the disability sector.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for awhile, you’ll know I hold reservations about the Disability Royal Commission. Done correctly, I believe the commission can help our sector to move forward in a positive way. To enact real change. It’s too scary to consider the alternative.

Instead, I’m left with concerns that perhaps we’re not getting the full story thanks to a lack of confidence and a fear of retribution...

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