Senate supports disability community’s call for the Federal Government to immediately remove two Royal Commissioners

Logos of DPOA, AFDO, CYDA and DANA

People with disability welcome the motion that was passed in the Senate today calling on Ms Barbara Bennett, PSM and the Hon. John Ryan, AM to step down as Commissioners for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The motion highlighted that both these Commissioners were “decision-makers of public service institutions which will be the subject of investigation and examination during the Royal Commission and have significant and unmanageable conflicts of interest which are highly likely to jeopardize the integrity of the Royal Commission.”

Co-CEO Matthew Bowden from People with Disability Australia, which is a member of Disabled People’s Organisations Australia, said, “We call on the Federal Government to act now and immediately remove Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett as Commissioners and replace them with individuals who meet the positive criteria set out by the disability community. We seek the support of the House of Representatives to show its concurrence with the resolution passed by the Senate today.”

Mary Mallet, CEO of Disability Advocacy Network of Australia, said, “As the motion makes clear, it is vital that disabled people, their families and organisations have confidence in the integrity of the Royal Commission. We have been calling for this Royal Commission for many years and are concerned that this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for justice may be wasted if action is not taken by the Federal Government.”

People with disability and their advocates appreciate the support shown by the Greens and Labor in co-sponsoring the motion in the Senate. This motion also received support from the cross-benchers Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie, One Nation and Centre Alliance.

In appointing new Commissioners to replace The Hon. John Ryan AM and Ms Barbara Bennett, PSM, the disability community would again urge the Prime Minister, Hon Scott Morrison MP, to consider the following.

That the new commissioner/s appointed:

  • is a person with disability;
  • has minimal and manageable conflicts of interest;
  • has respect and trust from people with disability and the wider community;
  • has high-level standing and experience in the application of the law and their impact on people with disability;
  • understands the rights, laws and policies for people with disability, particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • has knowledge of all forms of violence inherent in all settings and the existing legal and policy frameworks;
  • understands the way age, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, intersex status, ethnic origin or race intersect with disability and violence.

For more information, contact Ramola Hollywood, Director Policy and Advocacy at PWDA on 0431 998 273 or

About Disabled People’s Organisations Australia

Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) is an alliance of four national DPOs. DPOs are organisations that are led by and constituted of people with disability. The key purpose of the DPO Australia is to promote, protect and advance the human rights and freedoms of people with disability in Australia by working collaboratively on areas of shared interests, purposes and strategic priorities and opportunities. DPO Australia is made up of four national population specific and cross-disability DPOs that have been funded by the Australian Government to represent the views of people with disability and provide advice to Government/s and other stakeholders. The four DPO Australia members are First People’s Disability Network; People with Disability Australia; National Ethnic Disability Alliance and Women With Disabilities Australia.

For further information about Disabled People’s Organisation Australia (DPOA) visit:

For further information about People with Disability Australia (PWDA) visit

For further information on First People’s Disability Network visit

For further information on the National Ethnic Disability Alliance visit:

For further information on Women With Disability Australia visit: