An open letter to the Activ community from the CEO

Posted on April 12, 2019

At Activ, we are committed to defending the rights of people living with disability to ensure the long-term safety and well-being of all individuals. We fully welcome and support the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Activ Chief Executive Officer, Danielle Newport, has written an open letter to our customers, their families and the community.

 An open letter to the Activ community from the CEO

The Federal Government has announced the establishment of a three-year Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, to be held in Brisbane. A total of $527.9 million has been allocated to undertake the commission. 

Draft terms of reference were announced by the Coalition Government on March 13, which revealed the commission would encompass abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation of Australians with disabilities ‘in all settings and contexts,’ including schools, workplaces, homes and hospitals. 

On April 5, the final Terms of Reference were released and commissioners announced: the Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC will act as chair, supported by Ms Barbara Bennett PSM, Dr Rhonda Galbally AC, Ms Andrea Mason OAM, Mr Alastair McEwin, and The Hon John Ryan AM.

While a start date for the commission is as yet to be confirmed, the commissioners are required to provide their interim report by no later than October 30, 2020 and their final report is due by no later than April 29, 2022. 

The importance for victims of abuse to be heard and acknowledged cannot be underestimated. 

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has uncovered some disturbing practices. Following on from this, reports of similar circumstances in the disability services sector have begun to surface. We find this news to be very troubling and, if found to be true, insist unquestionably that it must stop. We will never condone any form of abuse, and fully support and encourage the royal commission into the disability sector. 

I take this opportunity to assure our customers, their families and the community that Activ does not expect the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability to uncover any current unsafe or abusive practices by Activ staff or volunteers. We welcome any advice or direction from the commission that helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff members. As the commission will look at historical cases, we will completely support any requests for information that arise. If Activ or any Activ staff member or volunteer is found to have done wrong in the past, we will take every step necessary to address this.  

We take every precaution in our recruitment selection process to ensure the people we recruit align with our values. We are unwavering in our approach to introduce only the right people in to the lives of our customers. I personally address new staff on the first day of their induction and express Activ’s commitment to our customer’s safety and wellbeing, and every week, I sit down and review feedback from our customers and their families.

At Activ, we have a well-established complaints procedure that we take very seriously to protect our customers’ best interests. Activ was established by families who listened to their children and wanted things to change; they wanted to create a fairer world for their children who deserved more. We still strive for this and will always work to create a society that gives everyone an equal voice. 

We fully endorse The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and use this to guide our policies and procedures. We regularly review and update our policies to ensure our staff understand the expectations and importance of their role in the lives of people living with disability. Any member of the Activ community is welcome to ask for a copy of our policies at any time.  

The commission's full terms of reference and Letters Patent can be viewed online here and further information is available online from the office of the Attorney-General here.

If you have any complaints or concerns, you can email our Feedback Officer or call (08) 9387 0555. You can also reach out to the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline on 1800 880 052.

If anyone would like to discuss this letter or the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, please feel free to call me on (08) 9387 0477 or email Danielle.Newport@activ.asn.au.

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