E-Blast: Royal Commission Update: Managing Conflicts of Interest

There have been calls for two of the Commissioners from the Royal Commission to stand down. This is due to perceptions of conflicts of interest because in their previous roles of leadership they provided services to people with disability. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability has released information about how the Royal Commission will manage conflicts of interest.

  • A conflict of interest is a situation in which a person or organisation is involved in multiple interests, financial or otherwise, and serving one interest could involve working against another. Apprehension of bias is where an observer might reasonably believe that a person in power may not act in ways that are impartial and unprejudiced in relation to the matter at hand.

In summary the Royal Commission states:

  • There are well established mechanisms to enable Royal Commissions to handle perceptions of conflicts of interest or apprehensions of bias.
  • In general, no more than three or four Commissioners will participate in any given public hearing.
  • The Chair will not authorise a Commissioner to participate in a public hearing if that Commissioner’s participation would give rise to a reasonable perception of a conflict of interest or a reasonable apprehension of bias.
  • A Commissioner who does not participate in a particular public hearing will not participate in the preparation of any report produced as a direct result of that hearing.

To be effective, it is essential that the Royal Commission has the confidence of the public, and of the disability community in particular, that it will discharge its responsibilities independently, thoroughly and transparently.

The Disability Royal Commission (DRC) has placed on its website a summary of the declarations made by each of the six Commissioners as to matters that might give rise to a real or perceived conflict of interest during the life of the Commission.

QDN will keep members updated on all matters related to The Royal Commission. For more information on how conflicts of interest will be handled, see: https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/about/Pages/management-of-conflicts-of-interest.aspx

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