Supported Decision Making Podcast

The Disability Royal Commission in the time of Covid-19: An interview with Kate Eastman SC.

May 19, 2020 Advocacy for Inclusion Season 2 Episode 9
Supported Decision Making Podcast
The Disability Royal Commission in the time of Covid-19: An interview with Kate Eastman SC.
Chapters
Supported Decision Making Podcast
The Disability Royal Commission in the time of Covid-19: An interview with Kate Eastman SC.
May 19, 2020 Season 2 Episode 9
Advocacy for Inclusion

We are joined today by Kate Eastman Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission. Kate is a barrister with a significant background as an advocate for human rights and won the 2019 Human Rights Law Award. We discuss the Royal Commission and how it is continuing during Covid-19.

You can find out more about the Disability Royal Commission on their website: https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/ or by calling 1800 517 199

You can email us at podcast@advocacyforinclusion.org  

Show Notes Transcript

We are joined today by Kate Eastman Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission. Kate is a barrister with a significant background as an advocate for human rights and won the 2019 Human Rights Law Award. We discuss the Royal Commission and how it is continuing during Covid-19.

You can find out more about the Disability Royal Commission on their website: https://disability.royalcommission.gov.au/ or by calling 1800 517 199

You can email us at podcast@advocacyforinclusion.org  

Support the show (https://buff.ly/3dGs2dG)

Rob 
Welcome to Advocacy for Inclusions "Staying Connected" podcast series. Last year, we presented a podcast series on Supported Decision Making. That was about building the important skills we need to support other people when they're making decisions. 2019 feels like a million years ago now. Since then, we've had bushfires everywhere and then the relief of rain. Now, we together face the challenge of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. In our staying connected podcast, we will find our way through these challenging times together. 

I want to start this podcast acknowledging the death of Ann-Marie Smith on the 6 April this year. Ann-Marie was a 54-year-old Adelaide Woman. She had cerebral palsy. Her decline in health occurred in circumstances that Detective Superintendent Des Bray, of the South Australian Police, described as "disgusting and degrading." She was malnourished and suffering from terrible pressure sores, and she ultimately died of septic shock and multi-organ failure. Ann-Marie was meant to be receiving full-time care funded through an NDIS package. Instead of receiving the care and support, she needed – care and support focused on promoting her well-being and quality of life - she was neglected and left sitting in a chair in her home, day and night, for at least a year. 
 
 The Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability (or the Disability Royal Commission) was established in April 2019 and had its first public Sitting in September. The Royal Commission commenced public hearings – looking into the stories of people with disability experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation in Education, Housing, and Health Care in late 2019 / early 2020 – and there were more public hearings to come, but then Covid-19 arrived, and the public hearings were suspended. The work of the Royal Commission is continuing – and hearing Ann-Marie Smith's tragic story, we can see how necessary that ongoing work is. Our Australian community has a long way to go in getting things right for people with disability. We are joined today by Kate Eastman – Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission – a barrister with a significant background as an advocate for human rights. 
 

Kate Eastman, welcome to our little podcast.

Kate Eastman 
Well, Rob, thank you so much for inviting me. And it's a great honour to be able to participate. You've described the tragic death of Ann Marie Smith. And that story has really caused us the Royal Commission to be terribly saddened by the death. But it highlights the type of work that we have to do and the investigations that we have to conduct, and I think our hope is that in accordance with our terms of reference, that we can do much better and prevent deaths such as Ann Marie's.

Rob 
Absolutely.

When it comes to the Disability Royal Commission, the actual terms of reference, it's it's it's a very broad sort of area of inquiry that the Commission's face with tasked with investigating. What is the scope of the more Commission's inquiry?

Kate Eastman 
I'll First say that if anyone wants to read the terms of reference for the Royal Commission, they're on our website, which is disability.royalcommission.gov.au. What I'm going to do is just summarize the terms of reference because they're extremely broad. So what the government has asked the Royal Commission to do is to inquire into a number of things. One has to look at what governments institutions and the community should do to prevent and better protect people with disability from experiencing violence, neglect, abuse, exploitation, and the extent of violence, etc. In all settings and all contexts, so that all settings and all contexts you can see it's very broad. We also have to look at what might be best practice to encourage reporting and effective investigations in response to the incidence of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability. So that's strengthening systems or protection and raising issues. And we also have to ask what can be done to promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability, and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. So that's it. So we have to look at all forms of violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation, whatever the setting or the context, but it's incredibly broad.

We have to look at aspects of the quality and safety of services. So that takes us to look at some aspects of the NDIS is and the quality and safeguarding framework. We have to look at multi-layered experiences so that we look at disability also in the context to age, sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and particularly the situation of our First Nations people, we look at practices and the role of families, carers and advocates. And we look at alternative models to better deliver services for people with disability. So it's quite a sort of large remit in terms of what we can do. And we're aware that people have very high expectations of us covering everything. And we're only here for a relatively short period of time a total of three or so years. So we've got a lot to cover in a short period of time.

Rob 
With COVID-19 having an impact on the Royal Commission in terms of the public work and public hearings, has there been any conversation about extending the period of time of the inquiry or is that something yet to be explored?

Kate Eastman 
That's is something I'm not privy to in terms of what might need to be done. But I think it's fair to say from our work in public hearings is that we've lost a number of months in being able to conduct some very important public hearings. And we may be able to catch up that work, but we may need some more time. And so I think this is something that we would be interested in hearing from the community and obviously, the chair of the Royal Commission will have to make a decision about when he approaches government and if he approaches government for an extension, but sort of probably outside my remit specifically.

As you said, it's an incredibly broad area of life that you're exploring and investigating. So it really is quite a challenge. I think I heard the chair at the initial the first hearing described it as formidable. That seems like a very applicable word there. So your're Senior Counsel, assisting the Royal Commission, which is can you tell me what that actually means? What is your role in the role commission? What is it that you do?

Kate Eastman 
That's a good question. Because sometimes people think of role, the role of counsel assisting in a role commission as the person that they might see on the web broadcast asking questions at a public hearing, at the role of counsel assisting goes beyond just the conduct of the public hearing. So in our Royal Commission, it's not just me, there's Kerri Mellifont is the other senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission, and we have a team of counsel we have two other senior counsel including Lincoln Crowley who's a barrister with first up First Nations background and a team of junior counsel. So job as counsel assisting is to assist the commissioners we give the commissioners advice on a range of issues. It's our job to develop the public hearings to think about the subject matter of the public hearings to identify the witnesses and work with our team of solicitors at the Royal Commission in all aspects of preparing public hearing. We also prepare reports following the public hearing to address what evidence we've heard and any lessons we've learned and in some cases, findings that we might make. We help the Royal Commission in other report writing, so we have to soon produce our interim report, which is our halfway report. So we have a role in assisting our policy teams in working through the development of our interim report. We're a little bit of a sort of check and balance on some things in the Royal Commission. So our role as counsel assisting is that we have a pretty good detector on issues such as procedural fairness. And we think very carefully about how we ensure that people coming to the Royal Commission are treated fairly and that everyone has the opportunity to respond to information about various bits of our work.

Rob 
Tremendous. There's a little bit of a vibe of it's not quite a courtroom, but there is that sense that there's a witness there and, you know, you're you're asking questions of the witness. When it comes to, especially people with disability, people who are in that setting, and they're talking about abuse or exploitation, vulnerable matters. It's an incredibly brave act. On the part of people to come forward in that way and share their story. Can you tell me what motivations people identified to get them to actually take that brave step and, and share quite often terrible experiences that they've gone through?

Kate Eastman 
Well, I've had three public hearings where people have come to give evidence and share their experiences to the Royal Commission. So we had a four day hearing in Townsville on the topic of education with the focus on Queensland. And then we moved to Melbourne, and we had a five day hearing in December where we looked at the experience of living in a group home. And our most recent hearing was a longer hearing a nine-day hearing that we had out of Home Bush in New South Wales, looking at the health system for people with cognitive disability, and we have had many witnesses with disability come to the Royal Commission and share their experience. And their motivations, I think will depend on each person as to why they wanted to do that. In some cases, we had family members whose children had passed away. And their child had a disability. And they wanted to tell the world commission what their personal experience had been so that others could learn from that experience. And their wish was that it never happened to anybody else. And so they were prepared to come and talk about some of the most personal, intimate experiences in their life and talk about a period of profound grief and distress in their lives. So that sharing this story would help other people. We had a number of people in our health hearing recently with disability to come and say, This is what it's like when I go into the hospital. And maybe if you hear my story in the Royal Commission next time as a health professional, you might look at me differently. And you might see me as the person and not talk to my mum, but talk to me. And I can make decisions about my health. So the motivations were sort of varied. But I was overwhelmed by how courageous the witnesses were to come and to be able to share their personal experiences in a public forum, knowing that they would go to tell people things that they might not have ever told other people before coming to the Royal Commission. So their motivations were wide and varied. But I think that some of the witnesses who gave evidence really excelled their own expectations of what it was going to be like to give and share those experiences.

Rob 
In terms of that, that act of coming forward and sharing these stories, um, there is a vulnerability there, as we've already mentioned. Can you tell me about some of this particular supports and structures that the Royal Commission has in place to protect witnesses? So if they're, if they're whistleblowers, are they telling that story where they might be afraid that they might be repercussions, what protections are in place for them? And what supports are there in telling these stories that quite often can stir up a lot of emotional and psychological trauma? What supports are in place to help and support people? If they are going through that sort of difficulty?

Kate Eastman 
Right. So dealing with the first thing in terms of protection, so this is a bit of sort of the technical legal stuff. In we have a law that governs the way in which we have to conduct a Royal Commission, the Royal Commissions Act. In that legislation, so in that act, it makes it a criminal offence for a person to victimize or subject somebody to a detriment because they've been asked to give evidence at the Royal Commission, or they've provided information to the Royal Commission, or they have attended and appeared as a witness at the Royal Commission. So that act of stepping into the process of the Royal Commission means that you get a little bit of a protective cloak, a protective legal cloak around you. And the chair of the Royal Commission has said in each of the public hearings, that if there is any incident that might arise where a person feels that they're subjected to a detriment because of their participation in a royal commission process, that that is something that we wish to know about, and that we will refer it to relevant authorities to investigate. So there's that legal protection But some people might say, well, that's the law, how do I know for sure that this isn't going to happen to me. And that part of it, which is part of picking up the supports, and the approach that we take to preparing a hearing, thinking very carefully about the witnesses who give evidence at a hearing, and making sure that comfortable about doing that is to work really closely with anybody who wants to come to give evidence at a public hearing, that will talk to them and have a very clear understanding about their story and what's occurred to them. We might ask them for some documents and some information that we would collect before we finalize the evidence so that we're able to double-check that we've got all of the relevant information. Everything we try to do at the Royal Commission without witnesses with disability is to take a trauma informed approach. And by that I mean not that everybody has experienced trauma. But what we try to do is make no assumption about anybody. And if we take a trauma informed approach, that means that we strip ourselves of assumptions. We listen carefully, we seek to understand, and we seek to find the right supports for our witnesses working with us at the Royal Commission. So we have a large counselling and support team. And so for example, if I go with my legal team at the Royal Commission to meet a witness, one of the counsellors will also come with us. And the counselling team will often be the first port of call to a witness at the Royal Commission. And the counselling team will provide some counselling, support referrals if necessary, but they're also there really to debrief so that you've got not just a sort of a whole bunch of lawyers talking to you, but you've got the supports from our counselling team. And for us as lawyers, it's important that we are really aware of making sure that we listen carefully, that we use appropriate communication techniques that not everybody is used to coming in and talking. Some people like to tell us their stories in a variety of different ways. So we're looking at all sorts of different options for people to give evidence, if they want to just put something in writing, that's okay. If they want to come and talk. That's okay. If they want to pre-record a video and that we can use a video, then we'll do that as well. So we look at those types of things. We spend a lot of time with our witnesses before they give the evidence so they feel ready. And it was a good learning experience for us at the roll commission. With our recent hearing in Home Bush a number of our witnesses with cognitive Disability said to us that what would help them the most was to have a bit of a practice day was we thought that's a good idea. So our original idea of a 10 day hearing turned into a nine day hearing. And we'll use that very first day to give witnesses if they want to, some didn't, but a bit of an orientation. So they could sit in the witness chair and see where the lawyers sat. See where the Auslan interpreters were sitting to see whether all commissioners were sitting and then actually just run through their evidence by reading their statements and doing some practice answering of questions. And so I found that very helpful as a lawyer. We don't often get to have a practice date before we do things in our court hearings. But I think the witnesses probably are best to tell you whether they thought that was a good idea, but I wanted to make sure that everybody at least knew what they were coming into before they gave their evidence. So there's a few examples. But Rob, we're learning as we're going along. And we're very keen for people to give us some assistance and suggestions about what works best for them. And as far as we can, we'll accommodate different ways of giving evidence. So we're on a bit of a learning curve ourselves.

Rob 
Excellent, or we all are, that it's wonderful that the Royal Commission, given the nature of the Royal Commission that you have that adaptability that you're actually wanting to know what works for people with disability and you're adapting the process. To be, to be fair,

Kate Eastman 
we're not perfect, no, and we want to learn and what I would like to see at a personal level is that some of the ways in which we can take evidence from people with disability might be able to use in other contexts. Not just for the Royal Commission.

Rob 
That's, that's excellent. Look, I think it's particularly great that you do have that facility for people to share their stories in different ways. So public hearing isn't going to work for everybody. But as you, as you've said, they can submit something in writing. I know I was talking to our advocate for the Royal Commission, Roslyn, and she's worked with people and some of them want to make a submission by video. So all sorts of ways that people can actually share their story and, and at the receiving end, you're happy to receive the stories however they come.

Kate Eastman 
That's right. So that their public hearing is only one part of our work. And we certainly encourage people to put in a submission. So we use that word submission because it's a convenient way of describing the form of information, or people can give us information about anything that's relevant to our terms of reference. And that might be a personal experience. It might be an experience of a family member, it might be an observation of where they've seen somebody do something which they believe is to be wrong or unfair. They can give us some research that they might have done or a survey. Some people have given us books, some people have given us photographs. So those submissions can come in any form, it can do it over the telephone, put it in writing, you can make a recording. I think as that Friday, we're up to about 932 submissions. And so the submissions are coming in, but we encourage people to share their stories with us in whatever form or other ways of communicating and telling the Royal Commission is throughout private sessions. Now they're on hold because of COVID-19. And that's, we're disappointed because we're getting up and ready to conduct some private sessions. But I'm hoping they're going to be an opportunity for people to come and meet one of the royal commissioners and have a conversation with the Royal Commission in person and share their stories that way as well. But it's a little bit of a wait and see. So I'm going to get the number in I've given you the website, but the telephone number if anybody's got any inquiries about that 1800 517 199 somebody will answer that phone and give you a lot of information about the options and people can make decisions about what options suits them best.

Rob 
Excellent and we'll um with this podcast in our little written description, we'll include the Royal Commission website as well as that phone number. Just so people have that in writing as well. So they can get in touch and find out how they can proceed with telling sharing their story with the world. Commissioner. So in terms of the public hearings being on hold, I think the Royal Commission was also carrying out workshops, some couple of workshops. So that public works on hold at the moment. And what have you guys been doing during this COVID-19 period? What what's, what is the work of the Commission?

Kate Eastman 
Well, we have actually been surprisingly busy. And I think we're all very disappointed that our public facing work wouldn't be able to continue. But we saw it as an opportunity to really work behind the scenes to make sure that when we can come and resume out public work that we're ready to go and that will be fully resourced and ready to start as soon as we can. But what we've been doing over the last couple of months is continuing the work that we were always doing so we have a research program where the Royal Commission conducts research and commissioned research into issues relevant items of reference that works been ongoing. I think we're now up to seven issues papers that have been released the most recent one being about employment on 12 May. And so teams reviewing the submissions coming into the issues paper and considering the relevance of that material to our work and how we can use that in future. We are working on our interim report. So we have to prepare a halfway report. And I think that's due in around October this year. And there's a lot of work you preparing the interim report. So we've been quite busy and doing as much as we can on the preparations of that report. We have been completing reports from our education, group homes hearing and health hearing. So after the public hearing, we invite people to provide us any additional information or responses to issues that are relevant to them and their evidence in the hearing. And that's a process of reviewing that material and then preparing those reports. So we're working on that. And we're preparing all our future hearings. So as far as we can, we want to make sure that we are prepared for having a really comprehensive program of hearings into the future. And then what sits with all of that is in our preparation to resume our community forums, and making sure our commissioners are ready for the private sessions when they resume. So there's a lot of work that's been done, but I think all of us at the Royal Commission are very keen to be able to get back and have that direct community engagement. I think we're missing being able to do that work and, and to have that direct engagement is people through our community forums and our hearings, but we have been working hard. 

Rob 
It certainly sounds that way. 
I have to tell you our, um, our systemic advocate, Bonnie as basically described the issues papers, it's coming thick and fast from the Royal Commission, you know, seven really substantial issues papers and my take on the issues papers is they focused on particular areas of employment, the justice system, emergency preparation and planning. They're really meant to be a bit of a conversation starter, aren't they?

Kate Eastman 
Yes, that's a very good description of them Rob, is a conversation starter. So the issues papers are not intended to be the answer to everything. But it's got the work that we've done. We've said what the questions that arise in these particular areas are what do we want to ask the community not only to get the input from people disability in their experience. But coming back to, as I said at the beginning on our terms of reference, it's also what a government's doing, what are institutions doing? What is the broader community doing? And so we're keen to hear from a breadth of people. So with our recent employment paper, we're not we want to hear from employers, we want to hear from industry groups, we want to hear from the experience of people with disability in their quest for employment and transitions from finishing school, for example, and looking for jobs. And we're interested in hearing those experiences over whatever period of time including what's currently happening because the COVID-19 impact on opportunities for work and impact on the workplaces and employment has just been enormous. And so people with disabilities are certainly included in that aspect of our work. So we're we're not stopping at a particular point in time we were constantly wanting to know what's happening. What should we be investigating? And the responses to our issues. Papers help us in shaping our future hearings. And also thinking about ultimately, what recommendations of all Commission or making our final report in a couple of years time.

Rob 
I think one of the things that struck me with the Royal Commission is you have been very responsive, I guess, in real time to events as they're unfolding. On 26 March, the Royal Commission published a statement of concern related to how well the needs and concerns of people with disability were being addressed in response to COVID-19. And the restrictions are being put in place. And it's a big step to issue a statement of concern. What was the Royal Commission hearing from people with disability that led you to make the call that we need to issue this statement.

Kate Eastman 
I think you're right to identify that Rob that as the Royal Commission, we're always conscious of wanting to ensure that we're not prejudging any issue. Before we've had an opportunity to hear from all of the relevant people and all, as I say, the stakeholders involved in things, but with the COVID-19, and the impact on people with disability, we were receiving calls to our hotline and to throughout our phone lines to tell us what was going on. People were seeking information about what to do. And so those concerns we thought needed to be addressed in some way and that maybe through the information we were receiving in real time, we could share some of that and raise that as part of our statement of concerns. So we were hearing concerns about people not receiving increases in their DSP as part of the income support. We were hearing fears of people about living in group homes in circumstances where would they be exposed to COVID-19? And what other alternatives may they be terms of people's living arrangements and safety and living arrangements? It people telling us about not feeling safe going to the supermarket or visiting their doctor because of the COVID-19 restrictions? Being able to access certain buildings? What did it mean in the COVID-19 world? How would our kids get to school? Some people say how are we going to get our kids to school? Or how are we going to do homeschooling for our kids with disability, and also some people just raise the concern about social isolation. So in some senses, some of those concerns are no different from each other. Everybody in the community, but we certainly had a sense that people with disabilities should not be forgotten in that process. So you've seen our statement of concern. And we also had a communication on the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of people with disabilities. And she expressed her concern about the impact of people of COVID-19 on people with disabilities globally. And then you may have seen them we've got this included in the material on our website that the Minister for families and social services the honorableAnne Ruston and the Minister for National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Honorable Stuart Robert, and the Health Minister, Mr. Greg Hunt provided a letter to the chair of the Royal Commission responding to our statement of concern and that letter which people can read on our website, identify Some steps that the Commonwealth government said that it was taking to ensure that people with disability were not left out of the various initiatives and these include the Advisory Committee to the health response and a range of other measures. And also, I think the work that has been done by the NDIA quality safeguarding framework was another area that the government identified. Look, it's possible that this royal Commission like other royal commissions, may want to do something more to investigate the COVID-19 response. So we have a very open mind this day to know concluded views. And you may be aware, I think that the Aged Care Royal Commission has announced that it is going to conduct an inquiry on COVID-19. And there's also another Royal Commission dealing with responses to the bush fires and other national emergency and so there's a lot of activity in the Royal Commission at the present time. And so they're all commissioners will probably form a view about the extent to which we might look at this issue further in our work on an ongoing basis. I think one of our issues papers also are specifically addresses responses to emergencies. So you can be assured it's on our radar, but exactly what we'll do and how we'll do that, and when it's sort of something that we're still going to have to work out.

Rob 
In terms of, I guess, in terms of your background, as a human rights lawyer as an advocate for human rights, and when emergency situations come along, and we have to respond quickly and collectively. Sometimes the choices and preferences of individuals can be lost in the need to act quickly. Do you have any concerns that what we're currently going through the nature of our response that might be setting some precedents in terms of long term negative impact on the hard won rights of people with disability.

Kate Eastman 
Yeah, Rob, at this stage, I don't have a completed view on that. But I think it's a such an important question. And it's a question that I think the Royal Commission needs to look at, and consider in terms of its future work. I think it's fair to say looking at the statement of concern and what the Royal Commission is heard so far that that concern about rights gain being lost in the broader response is something that people are concerned about. So I at a personal level, I would like us to inquire into that a little bit further. And also, I feel I don't want to prejudge or jump to any conclusions about how we might do that and exactly what the the answers to that might be.

Rob 
Now Kate, we going to run out of zoom time very soon. I've got questions that I want to I could sit here for another hour and talk to you, you're a wonderful person to talk to.

Let me just, um, maybe yeah, hopefully, we won't run out of time. If this session suddenly ends. Please don't think that I'm being rude. It's just the zoom ended it for us. The justice system. So at the moment, my organization AFI is working on education for the justice system about being more adaptable for people with disability. And I know the justice systems on the royal commissions radar. Issues paper came out in January, and I think there was going to be a public sitting into the justice system sometimes can happen In terms of your own professional experience and observation of people with disability, who are facing, negotiating with the justice system, how disabling is our justice system for people with disability?

The justice system is very challenging. You've got a number of aspects to the justice system, which probably now two minutes of zoom time left are going to be too much to cover. But if you generally divide up between the criminal justice system and civil justice system, then there are particular challenges for people with disability navigating both systems. In the criminal justice system, your ability to make decisions about how you navigate the criminal justice system can be very challenging as a person with disability. And that question about the extent to which disability and crime intersect is something that we could do more to understand and to do better. So a little small issues about whether somebody's disability impairs their ability to plead to a criminal offense to say whether they want to remain with a plea of not guilty or whether they want to make a plea of guilty. And then what does that mean in terms of consequence? That's one aspect. In the civil justice system, it's how to bring claim. So what sorts of claims can you bring not just about disability discrimination, for example, but also, What rights do you have to make a Will? What rights do you have to enter into a contract? What happens if somebody has misled you and you've agreed to buy certain products so even as a consumer, there's a range of different issues. So I think this is one area which is so broad and so vast that we need to look at it carefully, and one of the hearings that we had planned to look specifically at criminal justice issues and detention issues, was going to be held in late April in Brisbane. And I hope that's one of the hearings that we'll be able to return to fairly soon when our hearing program starts again. So Rob, there's lots of issues from engaging with lawyers to even finding lawyers to what it means to be a witness what it means to be an accused person. What are the consequences of the way in which the justice system impacts on you, that will have to be explored?

Rob
In terms of the public hearings, do we have any idea when they're likely to recommence? Has there been any conversation about that?

Kate Eastman 
You could imagine that within the role commission, we're always having conversations about that. But I think that the answer to the commencement of the public hearings and community forums and workshops and private sessions will really be that will be guided by the government's health advice as to when we can start to open up. And when it's safe to do so. So we're not going to conduct any public hearing or do any work that would put anybody at risk in any way. But it means like everybody, we've got to adapt how we do things. And so some of our plans that we might have had early in the piece about the form of hearings might have to change, we might have to adapt a little bit to how we do out here so that we can at least have the hearings. But they might look a little bit different to some of the hearings that we've had earlier on, at least for the immediate future. And I think we all have our fingers crossed that we'll be able to return to the sorts of hearings and the length of the hearings that we've had recently in the next A year or so, I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later. See, for us as lawyers, we love to do our hearings. So we're very keen to engage with the witnesses again and provide a hearing that gives them the opportunity to be heard. But it also allows us to ask the questions that we need to ask the government's and service providers and the broader community. So the sooner we can have our hearings, I think for all of the legal team, we would be very happy to resume but we've got to be patient. We've got to make sure it's safe. And we've got to make sure it's the right environment. So once we get a combination of all of those things working together, you'll you will be hearing from the Commission.

Rob 
Kate thank you very much for joining us for this podcast today is incredibly informative. It was lovely to speak to you and to find out where things are at with the Royal Commission and I hope we have the opportunity to talk again somewhere down the line.

Kate Eastman 
Oh, for sure were anything we can do to provide some information about how we work, to be able to come and talk to the Royal Commission, what supports we can provide. We really encourage people to let us know and as fast as possible, we will do our best to make sure that our procedures and processes are well adapted to ensure that everybody's voice is heard.

Rob 
Right. Thank you. 

Kate Eastman 
All right. Thanks Bye bye.