Call for Royal Commission Into Disability Abuse
27 August 2015 at 11:18 am
A coalition of peak disability organisations is calling for a Royal Commission into violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability in Australia, describing the abuse as a “national epidemic”.
The Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) will appear before the Senate Committee inquiring into claims of violence, abuse and neglect in institutional and residential settings today.
The alliance said the Senate Inquiry process had already revealed many hundreds of stories that testify to the significantly high levels and varied forms of violence experienced by people with disability in institutional and residential settings.
“The ‘closed’ nature of these settings, away from public scrutiny, means that this violence is very difficult to detect, investigate and prosecute,” CEO of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and ACDA member, Carolyn Frohmader said.
“The ACDA knows that these stories are just the tip of the iceberg and are indicative of a widespread and far-reaching problem. It is not limited to a few rogue individuals, it is not confined to disability support settings, and it is not confined by State or Territory borders. It is a national epidemic.
“The ACDA submission details wide ranging systemic failures in legislation, policies and service systems in Australia that underpin the conditions that give rise to violence abuse and neglect.”
The ACDA said it will also table testimonials and stories from hundreds of people with disability who do not have the necessary supports, the relevant information or the extensive process required to facilitate and support them coming forward to provide evidence directly to the Senate Committee.
ACDA has made 30 recommendations in its submission leading with a call for a Royal Commission as well as an overhaul of the criminal justice system so that people with disability are supported in accessing the same legal protections and the establishment of an independent national statutory watchdog to protect, investigate and enforce findings regarding violence, abuse and neglect against people with disability.
Damian Griffis, CEO of First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) and ACDA member said: “The Australian Cross Disability Alliance stands united in our Call to Action. Enough is enough. We must show those that have been failed by the system that they deserve justice.”
“The significant level of violence perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential settings warrants urgent national leadership to establish a Royal Commission.”
The Senate Inquiry has received 125 submissions.