FPDN’s Sydney Office is relocating.
FPDN’s Sydney Office is relocating.
Disability groups renew call for Royal Commission into violence against people with disability
Tonight’s ABC Four Corners report, ‘Fighting the System’ exposed more evidence of the appalling levels of violence and abuse against people with disability in Australia. This is only the tip of the iceberg. In light of the graphic and disturbing cases revealed this evening, Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), calls on the Federal Government to reconsider its recent refusal to conduct a Royal Commission into violence and abuse of people with disability.
“Tonight, more evidence has come to light that supports the case for a Royal Commission. It is only a Royal Commission that has the weight, the investigative powers, the time and resources to open the doors to the many ‘closed’ institutions and residential environments, and expose Australia’s shameful secret,” said Therese Sands, Director, DPO Australia.
“People with disability are routinely denied access to justice, both at a civil and criminal level because of law, policy and practice barriers. A Royal Commission would give space and recognition to people with disability to tell their story, to be believed, and would enable some measure of accountability and justice,” said Ms Sands.
The 2015 Senate Committee Inquiry into violence and abuse against people with disability in institutional and residential settings found that violence and abuse was prolific and hidden. The central recommendation of the committee was the establishment of a Royal Commission.
The Federal Government ruled out a Royal Commission in its response to the Senate Inquiry earlier this month. The Government noted that it was addressing violence and abuse against people with disability by establishing the Quality and Safeguarding Framework for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Dr Jessica Cadwallader, Violence Prevention Manager at People with Disability Australia (PWDA), member of DPO Australia said, “While the Quality and Safeguarding Framework is welcome and very important, it will not protect all people with disability, only those who are NDIS eligible. It appears to be largely based on systems and responses that the Senate Inquiry found to be inadequate.”
“A Royal Commission has a critical role to play as Australia undertakes national changes to disability supports and services. It would also address the scale of violence and abuse against people with disability, its many forms and the broad range of services and settings where it occurs. It would have the resources to examine the adequacy of systems, processes and accountability mechanisms designed to put an end to the appalling rates of violence and abuse against people with disability,” said Dr Cadwallader.
“We call on the Federal Government to take a leadership role to stop the epidemic of violence and provide a measure of justice for people with disability by urgently establishing a Royal Commission,” said Ms Sands.
Information for media:
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia) is an alliance of four national Disabled People’s Organisations (organisations made up of and led by people with disability). DPO Australia was founded by, and is made up of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia (FPDN) representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) representing culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability, People with Disability Australia (PWDA) a national cross disability organisation and Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), the national organisation representing women and girls with disability.
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Disability groups slam Government decision not to hold Royal Commission into violence and abuse
Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), an alliance of national peak groups of people with disability, strongly condemned the decision by the Federal Government to rule out a Royal Commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
“We are shocked and angry that the Government has ruled out holding a Royal Commission into the epidemic of violence and abuse against people with disability”, said Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia.
“The 2015 Senate Inquiry into violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings exposed the extent of this issue. The Inquiry heard from people with disability from all over Australia, displaying extraordinary courage and often at great personal cost, who came forward to highlight the terrible toll that violence and abuse has had on them personally and on their families and friends. The Inquiry found that the stories they heard were only the tip of the iceberg, and one of the Senate Committee’s headline recommendations was for a Royal Commission,” said Carolyn Frohmader, CEO of Women With Disabilities Australia.
“Only a Royal Commission, which has the weight, the investigative powers, the time and resources to thoroughly examine, expose and respond to this issue, can open the doors to many ‘closed’ institutions and residential environments. Most critically, a Royal Commission would give space and recognition to people with disability – many of us have never had a chance to tell our stories, to be believed, to be supported and to seek some measure of accountability and justice for what we have experienced,” said Ms Frohmader.
“By ruling out a Royal Commission, the Federal Government is denying people with disability a voice to tell their story and be believed. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown the kind of healing impact a Commission can make on a previously neglected and hidden issue,” said Ms Frohmader.
“People with disability in Australia need a Government that is prepared to really listen to those who have suffered from violence and abuse, and commit to take every step necessary to understand the extent and impacts of this national shame. We call on all political parties to speak out on this issue and commit to holding a Royal Commission,” said Therese Sands, Director of DPO Australia.
DPO Australia welcomes the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Quality and Safeguarding Framework, but is concerned that the Federal Government views this as adequate in addressing the significant issues and numerous recommendations made by the Senate Committee.
“The Senate inquiry showed that violence and abuse of people with disability is not limited to a few rogue individuals, is not confined to disability support settings, and is not circumscribed by State or Territory borders. The NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework will only cover a minority of people with disability – those who receive supports through the NDIS – and it replicates systems that the Senate Inquiry demonstrated were inadequate. It doesn’t address the scale of violence and abuse against people with disability, its many different forms and the range of service and other settings where it occurs,” said Ms Sands.