Disability Reforms Introduced to South Australian Parliament
31 May 2012 at 3:29 pm
Independent South Australian MLC Kelly Vincent has introduced a private member’s Bill to protect people with disabilities in that state.
South Australian MLC Kelly Vincent. Photo: Dignity 4 Disability d4d.org.au
Vincent has introduced the Mandatory Notification Bill she says will bring South Australia into line with legislative reforms taking place in Victoria and Queensland.
“For too long, adults with both physical and intellectual disabilities have found themselves at the hands of abusers with no adequate protective mechanisms available,” Vincent said.
Vincent, a member of the Dignity for Disability party, said “both those being abused and their families or advocates have told my office and many others in the disability sector they feel scared of reporting abuse for fear of reprisals or a reduction in services.”
Vincent's Bill “will require voluntary or paid workers such as medical practitioners, nurses, police officers, social workers, allied health professionals and ministers of religion to report suspected abuses within health, residential, education, recreation and other similar settings.”
The proposed legislation covers reporting for people with disabilities that may have difficulty communicating their abuse and also those in government-funded accommodation or supported residential facilities.
A spokesperson for Vincent, Anna Tree, told Pro Bono Australia News that the Bill was initially proposed in 2010 however it fell off the legislative agenda due to lack of support from South Australia’s Parliament.
“Investigations over a number of years suggest that people with intellectual disabilities are four to 10 times more likely to be victimised or abused,” Vincent said.
If passed through parliament, Vincent believes the legislation would “enshrine in law a mandatory requirement for prescribed people to report suspected abuse to the Public Advocate.” If deemed necessary, the public advocate would then refer the matter for further investigation to an “appropriate state authority.”
The Bill will be debated by South Australia’s Upper House over the coming months, however Vincent says given South Australia’s past record on disability reform the passage of the Bill is doubtful.
Separate disability legislation was proposed by Vincent on 4 April 2012, designed to overhaul South Australia’s Disability Services Act. This legislation is now at the second reading stage as parliament debates its merits.