Kymberly Martin
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People with disability must take leadership roles

People with disability should be a part of every conversation, not just those that directly relate to their physical and mental wellbeing, according to Dr Dinesh Palipana, senior advisor to the Royal Commission.

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Dr Palipana is encouraging Australians to reflect on how the country can move towards a more inclusive and just society with diverse leadership.

Before suffering a spinal cord injury in 2010 he 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 their fingers.

“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,” he said. “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.”

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He said everyone has a responsibility regarding leadership. “We live in a country where we have a system of checks and balances that 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.”

Chair of the Disability Royal Commission’s internal Support Network, Shane Clifton 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. 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,” he said.

In the past year, the Royal Commission received over 3,000 submissions and held over 700 private sessions. The passage of the Protection of Information Bill also fortified the protection of confidential information provided to the commission, with the number of submissions steadily increasing.

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