Disability Orgs Condemn Treatment of Student ‘Locked in a Cage’
17 August 2016 at 1:25 pm
National disability organisations have condemned the treatment of a student who was allegedly “locked in a cage” and have called on the government to establish a royal commission.
The Australian Cross Disability Alliance, said it was “appalled” at a report on ABC 7.30 which showed the abuse and restraint of a student with disability.
The program, which aired on Tuesday, revealed that a private school for children with autism on Sydney’s western fringe was being investigated following allegations a boy with autism and a moderate intellectual disability was being held unsupervised in a lockable structure with a high fence he called a “cage”.
According to the ABC, officials from the NSW Board of Studies Teaching and Educational Standards body visited the ASPECT Macarthur School and interviewed the parent of the child, Toby Jordan, after being notified of the matter by 7.30.
ACDA spokesperson Therese Sands said it was a systemic issue that needed to be “urgently addressed”.
“This is not an issue of one ‘bad’ school, one ‘bad’ teacher or one ‘bad’ education system – it is clearly a national, systemic issue that needs to be urgently addressed,” Sands said.
“There have now been numerous reports across Australia where students with disability are being locked in so-called ‘withdrawal spaces’, such as cages and cupboards under the guise of behaviour management plans and strategies.
“There is never any justification for treating children with disability in this way, and these practices must end.”
These latest reports come after a Senate inquiry into violence against people with disability in 2015 found that violence and abuse of people with disability was widespread across Australia.
The committee recommended a royal commission be held to expose the full extent of this violence and abuse.
Sands said it was “vital” to establish an independent national protection body to investigate all allegations of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability and ensure consistent standards
“This inquiry found evidence of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability in every state and territory, in schools, in group homes and other institutions, and in places where people are meant to be safe,” Sands said.
“The committee also said that the use of restrictive practices in schools, such as locking children in cages, must be eliminated as a national priority and that the Australian Government should work with state and territory governments to ensure that these practices are not part of behaviour management strategies.
“It is vital that an independent national protection body, with broad powers and functions be established to examine all allegations of violence, abuse and neglect of people with disability and ensure consistent standards.”
Sands said the time for national action on this issue was now.
“The ACDA is aware that the Australian Government is currently considering the recommendations from the Senate Committee report. We urge the government to establish a royal commission and to adopt the recommendations of the report.”
In June, the Australian Greens said it 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 called on the major parties to do the same.
In the same month, a group of disability advocates and organisations, including ACDA member, People with Disability Australia, provided 55 cases of human rights violations against children with disability in Australian schools to the United Nations for investigation.