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Commission highlights the value of persons with disabilities in leadership roles

Teenage Girls Having Conversation Using Sign Language

Senior Advisor to the Royal Commission Dr Dinesh Palipana says people with disability should be a part of every conversation – not just those that directly relate to their physical and mental wellbeing.

To mark International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), on December 3, Dr Palipana is encouraging Australians to reflect on how we can move towards a more inclusive and just society with diverse leadership.

‘Before I had the spinal cord injury in 2010… I had no idea what life was like for a person with disability… what it would be like to not be able to walk or bend your fingers,’ he says.

‘And then outside of those things, I never thought about what it would be like to not be able to access the community safely or other things such as healthcare or education – all the basic things we often take for granted.’

‘This is why diversity in leadership is so important, because when you have people with lived experience, people that deeply understand, they can add that to the table and improve our understanding.’

This year’s theme for IDPwD is ‘Leadership and Participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.’

‘Everyone has a responsibility regarding leadership. When you see a problem everyone has the opportunity to do something to look after their fellow neighbours, friends and colleagues,’ Dr Palipana says.

‘We live in a country where we have a system of checks and balances and this allows us to not just create a better country but hold our systems accountable and I think the Royal Commission is an important part of that.’

The Royal Commission is marking IDPwD by holding an internal panel to discuss leadership; including Mr Maurice Corocoran AO, Ms Judy Huett, Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO and Commissioner Alastair McEwin AM.

Chair of the Disability Royal Commission’s internal Support Network Shane Clifton says he hopes the final report will emphasise the value of leadership of people with disability.

’Society needs to move away from charity thinking towards empowering people with disability to shape their own future and their own safety,’ he said.

‘I am looking for the development of a more inclusive society. The active participation of people with disability in all dimensions of society is central to our safety and flourishing.’

In the past year, the Royal Commission has reached a number of milestones, including receiving over 3,000 submissions and holding over 700 private sessions.

The passage of the Protection of Information Bill this year also fortified the protection of confidential information provided to us. Since the confidentiality of submissions and other sensitive information beyond the life of the Royal Commission has been guaranteed, the number of submissions has continued to steadily increase.

The Royal Commission will deliver its final report to the Australian Government by 29 September 2023, with recommendations on how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society.

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