Call for com­mis­sion­ers to step down from roles

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Grampians dis­abil­ity Ad­vo­cacy has joined 60 other dis­abil­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions across Aus­tralia in call­ing for key fig­ures in­volved in a Royal Com­mis­sion to step down based on po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est.

The ser­vice fears there is a dan­ger John Ryan and Bar­bara Ben­nett have ‘real, per­ceived and po­ten­tial’ con­flicts of in­ter­est aris­ing from their past roles.

Both are com­mis­sion­ers for a Royal Com­mis­sion into Vi­o­lence, Abuse, Ne­glect and Ex­ploita­tion of Peo­ple with Dis­abil­ity.

Grampians dis­abil­ity Ad­vo­cacy said in a pre­pared state­ment that the ‘broad dis­abil­ity com­mu­nity and sup­port­ers be­lieve Mr Ryan and Ms Ben­nett have sig­nif­i­cant con­flicts of in­ter­est due to their past roles and, if un­ad­dressed, this could threaten the in­tegrity and par­tic­i­pa­tion of peo­ple with dis­abil­ity in the Royal Com­mis­sion’.

Mr Ryan was a for­mer se­nior pub­lic ser­vant for the NSW Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices and Ms Ben­nett was the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s for­mer Deputy Sec­re­tary of the Fam­i­lies and Com­mu­ni­ties Branch of the Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices.

Grampians dis­abil­ity Ad­vo­cacy of­fi­cials be­lieve both had re­spon­si­bil­ity for or­gan­i­sa­tions likely to come un­der sig­nif­i­cant scru­tiny by the Royal Com­mis­sion.

Grampians dis­abil­ity Ad­vo­cacy ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Deb­o­rah Ver­don said the in­volve­ment of both raised con­cerns about their con­flict of in­ter­est, ‘whether po­ten­tial, per­ceived or real’.

She said there was a need to have ‘com­plete’ con­fi­dence that the Royal Com­mis­sion was a place where peo­ple could safely pro­vide ev­i­dence.

“Peo­ple with dis­abil­ity must be able to tell their sto­ries to com­mis­sion­ers, know­ing that they can seek and re­ceive jus­tice from them and the body they rep­re­sent,” she said.

“They need to feel safe in telling their sto­ries, some of which in­volve the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions and bu­reau­cra­cies that have been re­spon­si­ble for vi­o­lence, abuse, ne­glect and ex­ploita­tion.”

Grampians dis­abil­ity Ad­vo­cacy pro­vides free ad­vo­cacy sup­port for peo­ple in a ‘Grampians’ area that in­cludes Wim­mera and Cen­tral High­lands centres Hor­sham, Ararat, Stawell, War­rackn­abeal, Bal­larat, Dayles­ford and Bac­chus Marsh.

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