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Greens Royal Commission privacy bill to be debated

The Senate will next week debate legislation introduced by the Australian Greens last year aimed at fixing the lack of confidentiality protections for witnesses giving evidence to the Disability Royal Commission, ensuring that disabled people are able to tell their stories safely.

Senator Steele-John promised last year that if the Attorney General did not take action urgently to protect witnesses and give the Royal Commission the safeguards it needs, then the Greens would introduce the necessary legislation and bring it on for debate.

"The Attorney General has known about the need for these confidentiality protections for more than a year, yet he's done almost nothing about it. We're still yet to see a government bill put beofre either house of Parliament," Steele-John said.

"I'm hopeful that we'll garner enough support during the debate to bring this incredibly important issue to a vote in the Senate, putting further pressure on the Attorney General to ensure that that people's privacy is protected beyond the life of our Royal Commission.

"The disability Royal Commission Chair Ronald Sackville AO QC wrote to the Attorney General in February of last year formally asking him to change the law, and in the Royal Commission's second progress report, released in August last year, the Chair dedicated an entire section (page 37) to the limitations this issue was placing on the scope of the Royal Commission.

"So many people in our community have lost all faith in the system because of the violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect they, or their family, have suffered; they want to know that it is safe to tell their stories.

"Now, as public hearings start again next week, it’s more important than ever that our Royal Commission can hear evidence from as many people as possible.

"We need to urgently change the law and give people the peace of mind that telling their stories won’t cause them more harm. If this government won't do it, then the Australian Greens will."

The Royal Commissions Amendment (Confidentiality Protections) Bill 2020 will be debated during Private Member's time between 10am and 12:20pm on Monday 15th February.

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