Greens Move On Royal Commission into Disability Abuse
23 June 2016 at 10:11 am
The Australian Greens would commit $400 million over four years to fund a royal commission into abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings and has called on the major parties to do the same.
“Right now, across the country, many people with disability are experiencing abuse, violence and neglect whilst in institutional and residential settings. Both old parties have failed so far to even acknowledge this plight throughout the federal election campaign,” Senator Rachel Siewert said.
In 2014, an ABC’s Four Corners program exposed cases of abuse and violence in the disability sector. Siewert said this was the impetus for the senate inquiry, which found covering up mistreatment and neglect in disability group homes was widespread.
“The Greens secured a national senate inquiry on this issue last year after hearing of abuse across the country,” she said.
“It is time to act on the recommendations of the senate inquiry to fix the system, we need a royal commission into abuse, violence and neglect of people with disability in institutional and residential settings. The Greens want clear, immediate action on this issue.
“For those living in group homes, there’s a high risk of neglect and abuse and advocates and families say there’s a culture where incidents are covered up.
“After the Senate inquiry heard tale after tale of abuse in group homes, there were hopes this election campaign might draw attention to its recommendations – including a call for a royal commission. But so far, there has been silence from both major parties, even as advocates say the suffering continues.”
The Senate inquiry recommendations included mandatory reporting rules, a national complaints watchdog, and a royal commission.
“We call on the [major] parties to support such a royal commission, they have heard the evidence and I ask them not to ignore it and commit to fully investigating it to ensure such abuse and violence is ended,” Siewert said.
At the time of the inquiries report the CEO of People With Disability Australia, Therese Sands, said victims of abuse needed a full royal commission.
“Enough is enough. This is our nation’s opportunity to show those that have been failed by the system that they deserve justice,” Sands said.
“The significant level of violence perpetrated against people with disability in institutional and residential settings warrants the establishment of a royal commission and we wholeheartedly support the recommendation made in the report.”
She was joined by Carolyn Frohmader, CEO of Women With Disabilities Australia, who said the stories of abuse uncovered by the Senate inquiry were the “tip of the iceberg” and 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,” Frohmader said.
“It is a national epidemic, and it warrants urgent national leadership from the Australian government to address it.”