United Nations Calls for Royal Commission into Disability Violence
3 July 2017 at 4:23 pm
The United Nations is the latest to join a national chorus calling for the Australian government to introduce a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
In its latest report, released Thursday, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Committee called on the Australian government to “fully implement” all of the recommendations made in the 2015 Senate Inquiry.
The 2015 Violence, Abuse and Neglect Against People with Disability in Institutional and Residential Settings Senate inquiry found that violence and abuse against people with disability in Australia was “epidemic” and called for the urgent establishment of a royal commission.
In March 2017 the Turnbull government rejected calls for a commission and, to date, has only implemented one of the inquiry’s 30 recommendations.
In its fifth periodic review of Australia’s performance in respecting and protecting the economic, social and cultural rights of Australians, the United Nations committee said violence against people with a disability was a grave concern.
“The committee is concerned about high levels of violence and abuse against persons with disabilities, especially those with intellectual disabilities and women with disabilities, placed in institutions or residences,” it said.
“The committee is also concerned at the lack of effectiveness of oversight and complaint mechanisms in alternative care settings.”
In addition to the recommendation for a royal commission, the UN Committee also called for the establishment of a well-resourced independent complaints system as well as a national registrar, responsible for registering providers and overseeing compliance with the registration requirements.
“The committee requests the state party to pay particular attention to ensure that women with disabilities and persons with intellectual disabilities, victims of domestic violence, can claim their rights,” it said.
The UN report comes on top of repeated civil society calls for the establishment of a royal commission.
In June a coalition of 163 civil society organisations and 383 individuals wrote to the prime minister demanding a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.
The civil society statement, written by Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPO Australia), said only a royal commission would provide accountability and justice.
Women With Disabilities Australia executive director Carolyn Frohmader said people with disability were “routinely denied access to civil and criminal justice because of law, policy, and practice barriers”.
“Only a royal commission can provide a comprehensive, independent, and just response to all forms of violence and abuse against people with disability,” Frohmader said.
Labor and the Greens have also backed calls for the establishment of a royal commission.
Labor shadow minister for disability and carers Carol Brown said a Labor government would establish a royal commission.
“The Turnbull government has failed to listen to the calls from the community for a royal commission,” Brown said.
“It’s time for the Turnbull government to listen to the United Nations, listen to people with disability and their families and finally establish a royal commission into violence and abuse against people with disability.”