Disability “Overhaul” Needed – Commissioner
Wednesday, 26th November 2014 at 11:30 am
Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner has called for a complete overhaul of governance and complaint handling procedures in services operated for people with disability.
Susan Ryan made the calls after an ABC Four Corners’ report alleged that disability service provider Yooralla had not acted appropriately when dealing with complaints of sexual assault against disabled clients.
“It appears that at Yooralla, a large and important provider of services to people with disabilities in Victoria, there was a breakdown of governance and monitoring of the protection of those receiving the services,” Ryan said.
Ryan welcomed the announcement from the Victorian Government and Opposition that they will conduct an inquiry into the disability sector, but said reforms are urgently needed to ensure allegations of sexual assault and abuse are investigated immediately.
“While the main perpetrator of the Yooralla crimes is now serving a long jail sentence, he should have been stopped and dealt with much earlier and potentially prevented others from becoming victims,” she said.
It comes after the Federal Government announced that it would not be holding a national inquiry into allegations of abuse.
Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield told the Senate on Tuesday that any inquiry would be the responsibility of State Governments.
“All colleagues would be concerned to hear of allegations of abuse or mistreatment of people with disability, who, as we know, are often in very vulnerable situations. It is particularly concerning when the alleged abuse—and some has been proved—has been perpetrated by people who are in the privileged position of providing support to people with significant disabilities,” Senator Fifield said.
“It is important to be serious and sober when looking to respond to these matters.
“I will share with the Senate that until the full rollout of the NDIS is complete the states and territories remain responsible for disability services in their jurisdictions and this includes complaints, regulations, quality assurance and law enforcement.
“Allegations of this nature should be referred to the relevant disability and police authorities.
“The government will be paying very careful attention to the work and the results of the Victorian parliamentary inquiry.”