John Ryan committed to Royal Commission position despite controversy

Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Narellan Vale resident John Ryan is looking forward to helping Australians with disability share their stories of mistreatment in the upcoming Royal Commission - despite the controversy surrounding his appointment as a commissioner.

Mr Ryan, who has spent his life working in the disability sector, was recently selected as one of five commissioners in the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The former state Liberal party upper house member said he took his responsibility as a commissioner very seriously and was dedicated to helping achieve the best results for mistreated people.

"It's an amazing privilege to be on this commission for people with disability," he said.

"I'm happy to be a part of the process.

"I've worked in the disability sector for 44 years and I know that people with disability have experienced mistreatment.

"This is an opportunity to stop that from happening in the future.

"These are big issues and people will have a chance to tell their own stories and get the government to see the need to make change."

Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

But Mr Ryan's selection was condemned by Greens senator Jordan Steele-John, who felt the former NSW shadow minister for disabilities was "too close" to the subject of the Royal Commission.

He suggested Mr Ryan and fellow commissioner Barbara Bennett (former deputy secretary of the Department of Social Services) should step down from their positions.

While not criticising their qualifications, Mr Steele-John was concerned their involvement could "taint" the Royal Commission.

"They are far too close. I would like to see both these individuals, who I'm sure have eminent careers, self-declare their conflict and step aside from the position," he said.

A spokeswoman for Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher said the government stood by its appointments.

"The two individuals in question have both been recognised for their significant contribution in their fields, as evidenced by their receipt of the Public Service Medal and Member of the Order of Australia," she said.

"Any suggestions as to the validity of their appointment is without any foundation whatsoever."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison appointed former Federal Court judge Ronald Sackville to head the Royal Commission into the abuse of people with a disability, which will run for three years.

As well as Mr Sackville, Mr Ryan and Ms Bennett, disability rights advocate Rhonda Galbally, Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin and Aboriginal advocate Andrea Mason will round out the Royal Commission.

The recent federal budget allocated $527 million to the inquiry, making it the most expensive Royal Commission in Australian history.

Mr Ryan has resigned from his job in the NSW public service sector to commit to the Royal Commission full-time.

The commission is expected to last three years and will be based in Brisbane.

An interim report is due by October 2020, with the deadline for the final report April 2022.