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Indigenous dot painting called Respectful Listening by Wiradjuri Elder Paul Calcott

We know 1 in 5 Australians has a disability, roughly 20% of all Australians, but when we focus on First Nations people with disability… it’s more like 1 in 2, with 45% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a disability or long-term health condition according to the First Peoples Disability Network.  

On Saturday, a wave of Black Lives Matter protests swept across metro and regional centres of Australia, despite clear public health restrictions on large gatherings due to the COVID-19 crisis. Protests have spread around the globe after shocking footage of the death of George Floyd, an African American man in police custody went viral. The Guardian has found there have been at least 434 deaths of Indigenous Australians in custody since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody ended in 1991.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (Disability Royal Commission) has released an issues paper this week on the experience of First Nations People with Disability in Australia. First Nations people with disability have the right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

Wiradjuri Elder, artist and disability advocate Paul Constable Calcott has depicted the story of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability in an artworkcalled ‘Respectful Listening’The artwork uses bright colours in a traditional dot painting style with Indigenous symbols. A detail of the artwork is pictured above. For more information on the symbolism and significance of Uncle Paul's work, refer to the Disability Royal Commission Resources for First Nations people

The issues paper says First Nations people with disability may face challenges in their day to day lives, including accessing education and healthcare and contact with the criminal justice and child welfare systems. These challenges can be further compounded by multiple layers of discrimination, particularly in relation to race and disability.

In NSW, it is estimated that 73% of Indigenous youth in corrective services have an intellectual, cognitive or mental disability. Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald on First Nations people with disabilities in incarceration.

The Royal Commission is seeking responses to the First Nations issues paper from both individuals and organisations by 11 September 2020, although submissions will also be accepted after that date.

Responses to the issues paper can be made:

  • electronically
  • in writing
  • by phone
  • by audio or video recording.

Responses can be in any language. This is important for First Nations people with disability who may wish to communicate in their own language. The Royal Commission will translate the response to English.


Phone: 1800 517 199
Web: www.disability.royalcommission.gov.au 

For more information read our full DRC directory listing.


Phone: 02 9267 4195
Web: www.fpdn.org.au 

For more information, read our full FPDN directory listing.

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